Edinburgh gets first new primary school in 30 years

Edinburgh education chiefs have revealed they plan to build the first new primary school in a generation to tackle chronic overcrowding in classrooms. This is from the Scotsman…

Untenable “compound problems” in the south of the city, where classrooms are bursting at the seams and scores of children are being taught in church halls and crumbling prefabs, mean the council will look at spending at least £10 million on the first primary school to be built in Edinburgh since the late 1970s.

Early indications point to the Astley Ainslie Hospital site as a likely location for the school, after education leaders said they were in “active” discussions with counterparts at NHS Lothian about acquiring the land.

The plans come as primaries across the city struggle to cope with rapidly expanding rolls fuelled by rising birth and immigration rates. Although a number of schools in the city have been rebuilt via PFI, this would be the first entirely new school in more than 30 years.

The new facility would alleviate acute pressure at South Morningside Primary, which accommodates three streams of pupils – 21 classes – even though its main building is designed for two.

The school relies on annexes in church halls, one for P1 classes and another for nursery children which is located miles out of its catchment area.

With nearby James Gillespie’s, Sciennes, Preston Street and Bruntsfield primaries also operating at or close to capacity, councillors have admitted a new school for the area is needed urgently.

Education leader Paul Godzik said: “We recognise there’s frustration in the local community and this is something we want to deliver.

“At this point, we’re in the very early stages. But we are in active discussions with the NHS, we’re aware there’s an issue and we want to continue this dialogue. The new school has been highlighted to the Scottish Futures Trust as a potential project.”

However, parents have criticised current conditions as an “outrage” and called for work on the school to begin as quickly as possible.

One mother at South Morningside Primary, who did not want to be named, said: “This should have been built ten years ago. It’s a nightmare. At the moment, our school is spread over three sites and it’s totally overcrowded.

“I think four of the classrooms are in huts, which are about 30 years old. You have two toilets for 70 children. They were never intended to be used as classrooms for that length of time.”

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