EFFORTS to try and save two Edinburgh high schools have stepped up a gear after the city council announced plans to merge Currie and Wester Hailes Education Centre.
As part of an ongoing review, council officials are looking at combining the two school to form a new south-west Edinburgh high school.
But the plans for the controversial city school merger have met with a backlash from parents, pupils and both Wester Hailes and Currie communities.
A petition calling for the WHEC to be kept open has now reached more than 1,000 signatures.
It reads: “WHEC has been the central point of the Wester Hailes community for almost 40 years and if these proposals became a reality it will completely disturb the locals as many families use WHEC for more than a school.
“Adult classes and recreational uses of the gym and swimming pool would also be put in jeopardy.
“The proposed new locations have more issues that arise as pupils would now need to travel by bus or car instead of walking, building a reliance on non eco-friendly methods, unless they were to use a bike on a busy artery road during the morning rush hour.”
Aaron Aitken, who launched the online petition said that there are other solutions that could be available to the council.
“If the council are intent on building a new school then it should be on the site where the school playing fields currently are. Many schools have moved to new buildings without the need of a merger.
“This would mean that the majority of pupils going to the new high school could transition smoothly without much disruption and that both Currie and WHEC pupils would be able to attend a school still local to them and Balerno High would no longer need an extension.”
The Conservative councillor for the area, Sue Webber, said the proposals had already caused significant distress and concern in the community.
She said: “The plans seem to be ill-thought through – with options determined by people who do not understand the communities who are involved at all.
“They have devised these options for a new school site and failed to truly understood the needs of either communities.
“Removing both schools will leave a vacuum – stripping the Currie area and Wester Hailes of everything. And to propose the green space at Curriemuirend as one of the sites for a new school is alarming.
“It is a very well-used, valuable green space.”
Council officials have said WHEC and Currie will both need replacing in coming years and that combining them into a bigger school will provide better learning opportunities for their pupils.
Cllr Ian Perry said: “The aim of publishing the proposals on Friday, as part of this informal consultation process, is to hear the views of affected parents and school communities. There has already been a wide range of feedback since we published our proposals which is really encouraging.
“It’s important everyone gets in touch with their comments on what we have published especially if they have any alternative proposals we could consider. We will be holding events in schools in the New Year where we will meet parents and consider anything that comes forward.
“However I must stress these proposals are informal just now and cannot be implemented without a statutory consultation process which would be the next step. I would urge people to contact us so we can reflect their views in our report to education, children and families committee in March.”
If the proposals are approved a new school would open in August 2022 with the eventual closure of both existing schools.