Parents from Currie High and Wester Hailes schools demand merger rethink

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Opposition to controversial plans to merge two schools in south west Edinburgh has reached a crescendo as huge crowds of parents and residents met to demand a council re-think.

The “serious shortcomings and concerns” over plans to create a new high school, made from the amalgamation of Currie High and Wester Hailes Education Centre (WHEC), formed the backbone of a motion which was unanimously passed at the Pentlands Neighbourhood Partnership’s public meeting.

Currie High School. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Currie High School. Picture: Ian Georgeson

A 4,000 signature petition by Currie Community High School, started by 14-year-old Currie High pupil Nic Reid, and a 3,000 signature petition by WHEC were also presented at the meeting to be passed on to the council’s education convener Ian Perry.

The motion, which asked the council to recognise the significant reaction in opposition to the ongoing schools review, will now go in front of the full council at a meeting in February.

Pentland Hills Ward Cllr, Sue Webber, who proposed the motion, said: “A loud and simple message has been heard from the communities across Pentland Hills.

“They want to protect and save all four of their community based schools.

“I am delighted to be able to support this motion and to now have the unanimous support from all the ward councillors is tremendous.

“It is now time for appropriate education and community based solutions to be discussed and appraised.”

The plans, unveiled at the end of last year as part of the council’s ongoing schools review aimed at tackling rising pupil numbers across west and south west, were met with a swift backlash amid fears over the potential impact on both local communities.

Now a period of informal consultation will not close until March 29 – some seven weeks later than the initial February 8 deadline – in light of the strength of interest from those who might be affected.

The motion states there has been a lack of understanding of the “extraordinary characteristics” of the area compared to other parts of the city and a lack of awareness the three proposed options present to the communities, in particular the impact on transport and environmental issues.

Cllr Jason Rust added: “I think we had the largest attendance at a Neighbourhood Partnership which I can recall in the past decade of chairing these meetings.

“The extent of the concern was palpable, from parents, pupils, community councils and the wider communities.

“It is clear that there are widespread concerns which urgently need addressed.”

The concerns include the need to undertake a full educational impact assessment of the proposals and to continue working with the wider community.

The proposals would also see the creation of a separate west Edinburgh high school, a new Maybury Primary School and the expansion of the refurbishment of Balerno High.

Details of the plans can be found on the council website.