Parents face delay over Currie and WHEC merger decision

OPPOSITION councillors in Edinburgh have called on the administration to keep a promise to parents and pupils after fears were raised that a decision on the future of schools in the south west of the city will be delayed.

Monday, 21st May 2018, 9:10 am
Updated Monday, 21st May 2018, 9:16 am
Wester Hailes Education Centre / WHEC

The city council put forward proposals to combine Currie High School and West Hailes Education Centre (WHEC) in November 2017 – but parents at both schools accused the authority of “wrenching the community apart” with the “super-school” plans.

Three alternative options were put forward following the backlash and parents expected a decision to be taken at Tuesday’s meeting of the council’s Education, Children and Families Committee.

But worries that a decision will be delayed until August have been raised after a source revealed the administration is considering putting forward a motion at next week’s meeting to put it on ice.

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An initial consultation pointed to “overwhelming support” for option one, which would maintain the status quo by refurbishing Balerno High School and WHEC and replace the existing Currie High School.

Both Conservative and Green councillors have indicated that a decision should be taken on Tuesday – putting the delay in doubt. Chairman of the Conservative group, Cllr Jason Rust, said: “This is not some sort of interesting experiment, it’s about the education of our young 
people. It seems this process has been embarked on without any proper thought as to the impact on local communities.

“It is important a decision is made and any further delays and uncertainty will be completely unacceptable and frustrating for pupils, staff and parents in south west Edinburgh.

“The council needs to give a very clear steer as to its intent at the meeting and I am firmly of the view that there is overwhelming support for ‘option one’ now.”

Green councillor Mary Campbell said: “The informal consultation over the last six months has shown an overwhelming view, from parents, wider community groups and teaching unions that the best way forward is to commit to new or refurbished schools in Balerno, Currie and Wester Hailes on their existing sites. That is what I believe the council should do. And I believe it should make that commitment now.

“However, I have also listened carefully to some parents and staff in the Wester Hailes area that enhanced educational opportunities for young people there need to be a top priority.”

Cllr Sue Webber, who represents the Pentland Hill ward, said any delay would “not be fair on the pupils”.

She added: “The council’s lack of ability to make a decision and just being inactive is not good enough.”

Convener of the Education, Children and Families Committee, Cllr Ian Perry declined to comment ahead of Tuesday.