PLANS to move Edinburgh’s Gaelic secondary school from James Gillespie’s to Drummond High are set to be considered.
The council says school roll projections for James Gillespie’s show it will experience issues accommodating the expected pupil intake in a few years and one step towards addressing this issue would be establishing enhanced GME provision somewhere else.
Drummond has been identified as a potential solution as it has the capacity for additional GME pupils and is located close to the Gaelic primary school (Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce) which would mean resources could be shared between primary and secondary GME.
In addition, an increase in pupils at Drummond could mean a wider curriculum choice than is currently offered at the school.
Informal discussions about the proposals would be progressed with parent councils at Drummond, James Gillespie’s and Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce with engagement events for the wider school communities and other stakeholders being held in January.
If a transfer arrangement which is suitable to all the schools involved can be agreed then a detailed draft statutory consultation paper would be submitted to the Education, Children and Families Committee in March 2018.
Transferring GME to Drummond would also provide an opportunity in the longer term, if demand continues to increase, for the school to operate as a dedicated GME secondary. If this was required in the future it would involve further detailed discussion and another statutory consultation.
Councillor Ian Perry, Convener of the Education, Children and Families Committee, said: “We must act soon to deal with the future capacity issues at James Gillespie’s and opening up discussions on the future of GME is the start of the process.
“Analysis of our high school estate has identified Drummond as a suitable choice as it is currently under capacity. Having the additional pupils at the school could also improve the curriculum choice on offer to pupils there.
“Another benefit is with Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce located nearby this presents an ideal educational opportunity for resources to be shared between primary and secondary GME.”
Councillor Alison Dickie, Vice Convener of the Education, Children and Families Committee, said: “Discussing these plans with parents and the wider school communities is a key part of dealing with the pressing rising rolls issues at James Gillespie’s and continued improvement of GME provision in the city.
“We will be holding a series of engagement events in January with the schools, wider school communities and other stakeholders to ensure all views are taken on board before any statutory consultation is proposed.”
David Sterratt, Chair of the parent council at Drummond Community High School, said: “The parent council at Drummond Community High School is open to considering this proposal further during the informal consultation. We look forward to considering the potential implications for the school and our children’s education in the short term and the long term.”
Brian Thunder, Chair of Comann nam Pàrant, the representative body for parents of children in Gaelic Medium Education from 0-18 years, said: “We welcome the fact that GME is being included in the overall review of the Edinburgh school estate, and view it as very positive that the Council recognises GME as a growing stream.
“As parents, the quality of education is always the top priority and we’ll look at all proposals with education as our key consideration. We’re committed to continuing to work constructively with the Council on the strategy for GME development in Edinburgh at all levels from 0-18 years.”
The latest school roll projection figures show that by 2021 James Gillespie’s, which has a capacity of 1300, is estimated to have 1,537 pupils in the school. Drummond, with a capacity of 600, is estimated to have 418. At the same time Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce will be nearly full at its capacity of 424.