A PETITION calling for Currie High to remain open has been signed by more than 1,000 people after it emerged the school could close following a proposed merger.
The plans would see the two schools combine to form a new South West Edinburgh High School with a capacity for around 1,200 pupils. Both previous schools would then close.
Council officials have said WHEC and Currie will both need replacing in coming years and that merging them into a bigger school will provide better learning opportunities for their pupils.
But the plans – which were published on Friday – have been met with a mixed response, with some welcoming the prospect of a new facility but others fearful over the potential impact on the community.
Meanwhile a petition calling for Currie High to be kept open has now reached more than 1,000 signatures. It reads: “Currie is one of the top nationwide schools and there is no way to tell how this change will affect those statistics.
“If these proposals come to fruition it will completely disturb the local community as many sports clubs and social groups are hosted in the buildings.
“Not only that but the council would be affecting Woodlands School as it was built so it could share Currie High’s resources.”
READ MORE: Parents and pupils react to controversial city school merger
The two main sites being considered for the new south west school are Curriemuirend – which was formerly proposed for housing – and a greenfield site just north of Baberton.
However, the petition calls for a new school to instead be built on the site currently occupied by Currie’s playing fields.
It adds: “This would mean that the council could save the money and that for the majority of pupils going to the new south west high could transition smoothly without much disruption and that Balerno High would no longer need an extension.”
This idea was also suggested by mum-of-three Dani Dinwoodie, whose children attend Juniper Green Primary School.
Under the plans, Juniper Green’s catchment would go to the new South West High School rather than Currie when it opens in 2022.
Mrs Dinwoodie, 40, said she was particularly concerned over the potential impact on her eldest son, who is currently in P7 and would be sitting his Highers at the time of the move.
But she said it was the possible loss of community which was most worrying. She said: “It’s frustrating as a parent to have done the best for your child and wanted to support your school and not send your children to private school.
“Currie has got such a good reputation. I can’t believe they are talking about changing all that, not because they are going to merge with WHEC but because of all the disruption – taking all the community that’s there and completely wrenching it apart.”
Mrs Dinwoodie said the suggested merger might end up in children who live next door to each other “going to completely different high schools”.
She added: “This seems like another decision that’s been made without proper forward planning about how disruptive it would be for a generation of children. It’s taking a community and dividing it into pieces and that’s what people are most upset about.”
The review would also see the creation of a second new high school in west Edinburgh, a new Maybury Primary School and the expansion and refurbishment of Balerno High.
It comes as latest projections show that by 2026 there could be an extra 1,300 primary and secondary pupils in west Edinburgh, where 4,000 new homes are proposed.
The south west of the city could see more than 200 new pupils following the delivery of 700 new homes.
Education convener Ian Perry said there was “no escaping” the fact that more school places would be needed in the west thanks to Edinburgh’s thriving economy drawing more people to the city.
And he argued the new facilities would provide pupils with a first-class education and better learning opportunities.
He said: “If we don’t do this now we will run into difficulty of running out of school places. It has to be done now – we have to plan for the future.
“It has to be stressed this is an informal consultation and we need to know people’s views before we decide where we are going to build the new schools.
“Both WHEC and Currie need to be replaced. So instead of replacing two schools we are going to amalgamate the schools together.
“That gives us an opportunity to build a bigger school which educationally is much better in terms of maximising the curriculum and delivering a comprehensive education.”
Meanwhile Kevin Lang, Liberal Democrat councillor for Almond ward, said the new west Edinburgh high school would be “good news” for the community.
The two sites currently being considered are Ratho Station and the IBG site at Gogarburn.
He said: “It offers the chance to build a state-of-the-art educational facility to not only serve areas of new housing but also communities like Newbridge and Ratho Station, where residents often feel forgotten by the city centre-based council.
“The real issue is how quickly this new school can be delivered. Given all the various house building proposals, we really need to avoid adding even more pressure on existing schools.”
Focus group sessions will be held in the new year, with full details on the council website.
Fears over loss of access to sport facilities
Disabled youngsters at a nearby school could lose access to sporting facilities if Currie High School closes, it is feared.
Julia Main, parent council chair at Woodlands Special School, said their pupils regularly visited Currie to make use of its sport facilities.
She said Woodlands would not have won its recent Sport Scotland gold school award had they not been able to do so.
“Woodlands and Currie High School have worked hard in recent years to develop community links and share sporting facilities,” she said. “Disabled children in special schools are already more isolated than other children due to having to travel often outwith the areas they live in to come to school. We feel part of the community which would be taken away if Currie High is closed.
“Disabled children need access to sporting facilities like everyone else, these will be unavailable if Currie High School is closed as we share facilities.
Concerns have also been raised about changes to Roseburn and Corstorphine Primary Schools’ catchments. Under the plans, Roseburn’s would go to Tynecastle High rather than Craigmount from August 2019. Meanwhile the west section of Corstorphine Primary’s would go to the new Maybury Primary School from 2021.
Scott Douglas, Conservative councillor for Corstorphine and Murrayfield, said: “Many parents moved into Corstorphine and Roseburn specifically because of the catchment area they were in, yet these plans threaten to tear up the status quo. It will also undoubtedly have a knock-on effect on house prices and all of this needs to be considered before any changes go ahead.”