Education bosses have added a city primary school to a long wish list of new buildings as the council gears up for its biggest ever investment in new classrooms.
Parents were told this that St Catherine’s Primary School in Gracemount is “reaching the end of its lifespan” and a funding decision will be taken in February as part of the council’s budget process.
In a letter to parents, the council’s head of property and facilities management, Peter Watton, said: “The council had started an upgrade project for the current building in the summer of 2018, but detailed site investigations showed that replacement with a new school building, rather than an upgrade, would be the better course of action.
“We aim to replace the school within five years. In the meantime, repairs will continue to be undertaken where necessary, to allow the continued, safe, operation of the school.”
Currently, St Catherine’s School has a capacity of 210 which is already being exceeded. Rolls projections mean that pupil numbers are expected to rise each year until at least 2028 – as the Capital’s population is set to rocket.
New primary schools at Broomhills and Victoria are expected to open in August 2020, along with the new Queensferry High School in March 2020 and Castlebrae High School in August 2021. The delayed Cannan Lane primary school is also set to open in August 2021 – while St Catherine’s and St Crispin’s schools are set to be built.
The council hopes to open a new Maybury primary school by August 2022, as well as primary schools at Brunstane and Builyeon Road in South Queensferry.
Funding has also been allocated for new schools for Trinity and Currie, while the council intends to replace Wester Hailes Education Centre, Liberton and Balerno high schools – subject to Scottish Government funding.
Education convener Cllr Ian Perry said: “We’re about to embark on the biggest school building project probably since the war.”
The council is facing a need to cut £39m from its budget next year – after receiving less money from the Scottish Government than anticipated. But Cllr Perry insists the authority has a “moral obligation” to find places for pupils in local communities. He said: “The funding needs to be found – we have to create this infrastructure. The question then is how much does the council pay for it and how much support will we get from the Scottish Government and developer’s contributions through the Local Development Plan.
“What we can’t have is a situation where there’s a young person who can’t have schooling in their local area. There’s a political and moral obligation to provide it in their local area.”