Fresh fears over plans to merge two high schools

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PLANS to shut an Edinburgh high school following a proposed merger would be a blow for the entire community should they get the green light, it has been claimed.

As part of an ongoing review, council officials are looking at combining Currie High and Wester Hailes Education Centre (WHEC) to form a new south-west Edinburgh high school.

Wester Hailes Education Centre. Pic Greg Macvean

Wester Hailes Education Centre. Pic Greg Macvean

If approved, the proposals would result in the new school opening in August 2022 and the eventual closure of both existing schools.

READ MORE: Nearly 1000 people sign petition to save Currie Community High School

But Amanda Campbell, chair of WHEC parent council, said the school community was “not happy” about the plans and would be fighting them all the way.

She said: “It’s not a good idea for the children and the community because WHEC is very much a hub for the community. So much will be lost if this proposal goes through.

“It’s so much more than a high school to a lot of these kids. They have been talking about it, they are disappointed and worried.

“There would be nothing here if they take it away. There’s nothing in that area at all for these kids and they take pride in their school.”

READ MORE: School merger proposed under plans to tackle rising number of Edinburgh pupils

Council officials have said WHEC and Currie will both need replacing in coming years and that combining them into a bigger school will provide better learning opportunities for their pupils.

But retired modern studies teacher Peter Clark said there was “no way” they should be considering closing WHEC given the “extensive” housing developments in the west of the city.

Mr Clark, who taught at the school from August 1978 until early 1982, said: “I find it hard to believe that the council is not on top of all this a bit earlier, and not wait until everything is at bursting point.”

It comes after a petition calling for Currie High to stay open yesterday topped 2000 signatures. Two locations are being considered for the new south-west school, one at Curriemuirend and the other just north of Baberton.

Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray, a former WHEC pupil, said he would be “very sad” if it closed but added it was important that education facilities were modernised.

He said: “As a former pupil, I can not speak any higher of WHEC as a high school.

“I would be very, very sad to see it go but if the future pupils of WHEC can be afforded a brand new school with a sustainable student roll then we should not stand in the way of that progress.

“It’s educational attainment that is important, not bricks and mortar, and that educational attainment for me was provided by the wonderful teachers and staff of WHEC.

“If the ethos and community facilities can be protected then, whilst sad about WHEC, if it benefits the pupils and local community then everyone should look seriously at the proposals.”

Announcing the proposals, education convener Ian Perry stressed no decision had yet been made and that it was vital to plan ahead if the Capital was to cope with rising numbers of pupils.

He added: “It’s not about looking at just the next few years but planning ahead for future generations.”

The proposals also include a second new high school in west Edinburgh, expansion and refurbishment of Balerno High School and a new Maybury Primary School.

Full details are online.