Making changes to children’s education by building new schools and reviewing catchment boundaries is guaranteed to generate a passionate debate.
So, publishing our initial proposal for the future of schools in the west and south west of Edinburgh at the end of November, was always going to be a challenge.
I want parents and communities to understand this was not a path we went down lightly. Something must be done to meet the education challenges being thrown up by the significant growth the area will experience in the coming years. We need to take parents and communities with us on this journey which is why we consulted so widely. We said we would listen to the feedback from parents and communities and we have. The past four months has seen one of the most extensive informal consultation programmes ever undertaken by the council. There were 23 events including school workshops, community council meetings, drop-in sessions, presentations and more than 1000 online forms completed.
And it is this valuable feedback that has helped develop the three alternative options which we published last week and are being discussed at our special education, children and families committee tomorrow.
We have taken on board many of the views from the public in drawing up these three new options. Strong themes were coming through the consultation that people wanted information on attainment and inclusion, the effect of the school roll and size of school on attainment, future proofing the school estate, school size, community facilities, costs and travel plans.
Each of three new options, and the original published proposal, have these details so everyone can compare them side by side to see the benefits of each one. I want to stress that no decisions will be taken at tomorrow’s meeting but it does give everyone on the committee the chance to hear for themselves the views of various members of the community on the options.
After tomorrow a further report will come back to the next committee on May 22 which will recommend which, if any, proposals should go to statutory consultation.
Whatever decision is taken in May will be made in the best interests of the pupils as we’re determined to improve attainment and achievement for all. The educational outcomes for all our young people are at the heart of our future plans and providing schools that fully meet the needs of our learners is key to our success moving forward.
Once again I want to thank everyone who has taken part in our consultation – tomorrow is the last day for people to tell us what they think by completing our online form at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/schoolreview
Councillor Ian Perry is children, education and families convener at Edinburgh City Council