Parents angry at plan to swap school headteachers

Forrester High. Picture: Greg Macvean
Forrester High. Picture: Greg Macvean
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ANGRY parents have attacked a decision by education chiefs to swap the headteachers of Castlebrae and Forrester high schools.

The criticisms came after it emerged that Castlebrae head Graeme Thompson would move to Forrester, while his counterpart, Derek Curran, will lead the embattled Craigmillar secondary on a one-year appointment.

Castlebrae school. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Castlebrae school. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Leaders of Forrester’s parent council said they did not believe Mr Thompson would provide effective leadership of a school “four times” the size of Castlebrae, which was nearly closed over poor exam results and 
falling rolls.

Education bosses said the decision had been made in the best interests of both schools, and insisted they had no doubts about Mr Thompson’s ability to run Forrester High.

But Andrew Lamont, vice chair of Forrester High parent council, said: “Parents are deeply concerned and the feeling about this appointment is that it will have a negative impact on Forrester.”

Another parent council member, who did not want to be named, said: “No offence to the chap but we don’t want him. It would appear that he has not been able to deal with a school of 160 pupils and is now being asked to run a school four times that size.”

The row follows an announcement by city bosses that they have scrapped proposals to make Castlebrae an annex of Portobello High and will instead bring in an “A-team” of national experts to reverse the Craigmillar school’s ailing fortunes.

Forrester parents said the welfare of pupils was being sacrificed and accused council leaders of ignoring their concerns.

Mr Lamont said: “We were asked for our feedback but it was quite clear that the final decision had already been made. Our council is very concerned at the speed and manner in which the whole process has been carried out, by ignoring the impact on Forrester and concentrating on the positive impact on Castlebrae.”

He added: “We do not consider that the headteacher from Castlebrae will be able to adequately administer a school four times the size.”

Parent representatives at Castlebrae declined to comment on Mr Thompson’s departure.

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “Throughout his time at Castlebrae, and indeed during his 32-year teaching career in Edinburgh, Graeme has performed well in various posts and shown professionalism and an exceptional level of dedication, sometimes in difficult 
circumstances. I know the parents, pupils and local community are grateful for his efforts.”

Cllr Maureen Child, Labour member for Portobello and Craigmillar, said: “The parents are prejudging Graeme and it’s unfair. If you can lead Castlebrae during the very difficult years it has had, you can do anything.

“As head at Castlebrae, he will have learned much more than teachers in other positions.”