Revealed: Half of Edinburgh’s high schools will be full in three years

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Edinburgh needs an extra 47 secondary school classrooms by 2020/21 as pupil numbers climb by 7.5 per cent, a new report claims.

Across Scotland, 453 additional classrooms – equivalent to 13 new secondary schools – will be required to cope with growing population, the report by procurement specialists Scape Group estimate.

The new Boroughmuir High School opened in February last year with a special assembly in the atrium for all 1,200 pupils. Picture: Greg Macvean

The new Boroughmuir High School opened in February last year with a special assembly in the atrium for all 1,200 pupils. Picture: Greg Macvean

Meanwhile, city council projections show more than half the Capital’s secondary schools will be over capacity by 2022.

Formal plans were unveiled this week to extend Edinburgh’s newest high school, Boroughmuir, because the £31 million facility is already too small.

Firrhill and the Royal High are also both already over capacity and Portobello, James Gillespie’s and St Thomas of Aquin’s are forecast to be over capacity by the start of the next session. According to the council’s projections, by 2025 only four of the city’s 23 high schools will still have enough space for all their pupils.

Scape said Edinburgh would also need 20 extra primary classrooms, equivalent to three new schools.

The report acknowledged the council’s budget included £66.7m for new and refurbished primary and secondary schools over the next three years.

Scape Group chief executive Mark Robinson said: “Scotland needs to build hundreds of school classrooms in a short time frame and local authorities across the country continue to feel the strain.

“The issue of school places delivery is likely to be exacerbated in the coming years if we do not think and act creatively now. Good schools are the bedrock of our society and there can be no room for error.”

Conservative education spokesman Callum Laidlaw said he had been surprised that recently completed schools like Boroughmuir and Portobello were already at or nearing capacity.

“It’s disappointing, given the level of investment in the planning process and the data available that we have built schools which already need significant work.”

And he said the council’s SNP-led administration should be putting pressure on the Scottish Government for more cash for investment in new classrooms.

Education committee vice-convenor Alison Dickie said: “Edinburgh is widely considered to be leading the way in Scotland when it comes to proactively tackling the issue of rising school rolls with an innovative and collaborative approach.

“By 2023, we expect our population to increase by 23,000 people – including an additional 4,000 children. This presents a huge challenge for us, but it’s one we’re tackling head on as we continue to invest in new and upgraded schools.”