City schools set for the scrapheap


By Michael MacLeod

FOUR Scots primary schools are set to shut amid falling pupil numbers.

In a cost-cutting drive, Edinburgh’s education bosses want to close Burdiehouse, Drumbrae, Fort and Royston primaries.

Each school could hold over 300 pupils each, but in fact presently only contain less than 150 youngsters.

Edinburgh City Council stands to make £2.4million by scrapping and selling the four sites.

They blamed the falling rolls on “parental choice and population changes in catchment areas.”
The cost of teaching pupils at each of the earmarked schools costs up to £2377 more than the capital’s average.

A consultation process will begin in August and, if plans are given the green light, the schools will close their doors in summer 2010.

Pupils would be offered places in the schools nearest to their houses.

City education boss Marilyne MacLaren said: “We must be sure that our schools are well equipped, well staffed, full of pupils and that they offer the best value for money.

“The money the government gives us for education is linked directly to the number of pupils in the city – this means that it costs us much more to run schools that aren’t full.

“We also know that full schools mean better access to the curriculum and more opportunities for pupils and teachers.

“That’s why we must continue to review our school estate and ensure that schools are as good as they can be.

“We know that government spending is tightening up so it is vital that we get the most out of the money we invest – this process can help us do that.”

If closures are agreed, it has been recommended that any money made from the sale of the sites of former schools should be reinvested in the schools estate.

This would include the building of new nursery schools at Gracemount and Clermiston primaries and the creation of more places at Granton Primary School Nursery.

Three major reviews of the schools estate over the past decade have seen the number of schools reduce from 103 to 91 to make schools more efficient and improve the educational experience for pupils.