Soaring birth rate in Currie sparks review of Edinburgh school catchment areas

General view of Currie Primary School. Picture: Ian Georgeson
General view of Currie Primary School. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A SOARING birth rate in one primary school’s catchment area has prompted a shake-up of who goes to which school.

Council chiefs have launched a review of catchment areas for Currie Primary and nearby Nether Currie and Dean Park primaries, with knock-on effects for Currie and Balerno high schools.

A consultation document says the birth rate in Currie Primary’s catchment has increased from 40 in 2011 to 60 in 2016. Dean Park’s birth rate dropped from 46 to 28 over the same period while Nether Currie’s saw no change.

Projections suggest pupil numbers at Currie Primary are set to rise from 470 to 669 by 2027, while Dean Park would only increase from 455 to 456 and Nether Currie from 153 to 172.

The figures also take account of a forecast extra 47 Currie Primary pupils from new housing developments in the area between now and 2021 and an extra 36 at Dean Park.

But the review proposes parts of Currie Primary’s catchment area including part of Lanark Road West, Kirkgate and Blinkbonny and the new housing development at Kinleith Mills, would transfer to Nether Currie, while the Dalmahoy, Cherry Tree and Newmills areas would be switched to Dean Park. No existing pupils would have to move to a different school.

The council says the proposals would mean Currie’s roll only increased from 470 to 502, while Nether Currie’s went from 153 to 181 and Dean Park from 455 to 583.

The review document says the changes should remove the need for further new accommodation at Currie Primary. It says: “If the proposed catchment changes are approved, projections suggest the school will be required to operate at its capacity of 19 classes in the medium term before the roll begins to fall.”

Under the changes, new accommodation would still be needed at Dean Park but Nether Currie has spare room.

If approved, the changes would take effect from November 2019 to capture P1 and S1 registrations for August 2020.

Pentland Hills Conservative councillor Susan Webber said there would be different views among parents about the proposed changes.

She said: “It’s important, however this review comes out, that we have appropriate investment in there for school buildings to support the changes.”

Cllr Webber pointed out that in 2007 Curriehill and Riccarton primaries were merged to become Currie Primary School because of declining rolls.

“Eleven years later, schools are bursting at the seams. Whatever decision is made it needs to be future-proofed and be mindful of the increasing pressures. Let’s make sure we are making the right decision and looking forward so people don’t have to go through this again.” Two public meetings are to be held – at Balerno High School on Wednesday, November 14 and at Currie High on Monday, November 19, both 7-9pm. The consultation runs until 5pm on Monday, December 3.