State schools can be excellent

Shirley Manson of Garbage who attended Broughton High's music school. Pic: Sipa USA/REX/Shutterstock
Shirley Manson of Garbage who attended Broughton High's music school. Pic: Sipa USA/REX/Shutterstock
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The debate over whether state schools can, of do, match the quality of education in fee-paying establishments has long raged.

Few would dispute that the city’s best high schools are as good as, or better than, most of their private counterparts. The teaching and opportunties afforded to many state pupils is simply outstanding and far beyond what most of their parents enjoyed.

Raising standards across the board, so that all pupils get the same opportunities is one of the biggest challenges facing the city.

In that context, closing the music centre at Broughton High seems a retrograde step. It has been a shining light not just for Edinburgh but Scotland, offering the kind of opportunities that most children from ‘ordinary’ homes would have thought beyond their grasp.

The council suggests that closing it will allow them to spread the expertise to more pupils, by creating specialist centres at four schools, while at the same time delivering necessary savings.

That is fantastic if it can be done while delivering the same high standards set at Broughton. The suspicion is that standards at the top of the state school tree will be dragged down rather than the rest rising to meet it.

Parents will want to know that is not the case.