Labour MSP fears new school buildings could be delayed

A general view of Liberton High School.
A general view of Liberton High School.
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FEars have been raised that new buildings for three city high schools could be delayed because Scottish Government cash to help meet the cost won’t be available until 2021.

The council wants to replace six schools and has set aside just over £100 million to pay for Currie High, Trinity Academy and Castlebrae High.

But the other three – Wester Hailes Education Centre and Liberton and Balerno Highs – depend on a similar amount of government funding.

Last week Education Secretary John Swinney announced £1 billion would be available for councils across Scotland from 2021.

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Now Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP Daniel Johnson has written to Mr Swinney, voicing concern about the timing. He said it seemed there would be no new money during this parliament. “Does this mean that schools in desperate need of new facilities will need to wait until after the next election for their school buildings to be replaced?” he asked.

Mr Johnson told the Evening News: “Liberton High School was built in the 50s and is overdue for replacement. We need commitment to build a new school, not ministerial smoke and mirrors.”

Green councillor Mary Campbell said the £1bn announcement was good news overall. “I’d have preferred if the money was coming earlier than 2021, but, in reality, the new schools programme, at over £200m, will take a number of years to deliver. As long as the time in between is used to make firm commitments about the scale and model of funding, then the council should be able to get ahead with design, consultation and planning.”

Education vice-convener Alison Dickie said the council had already announced the master planning for the six schools to be replaced would start in the new year. “We will share these with the Scottish Government as we go forward,” she said.

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“I recently met with some impressive pupils at Liberton High School, who were passionately vocal about their need for a new building, and galvanising their own young people’s campaign. We want to hear much more of that pupil voice as part of the masterplan processes at all the schools.”

The government said Edinburgh had received £63m under the current school building programme and the new £1bn programme would drive more improvements from 2021.