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Discussion Starter #1
MSPs mull Portobello High School plan

Edinburgh Evening News - 13th September, 2013

Portobello Park is the only suitable site to build a new high school, MSPs have been told as they start to hear evidence on the city’s bid to change the law to allow construction to go ahead.

MSPs sitting on the Holyrood committee which will recommend to the Scottish Parliament whether or not development should be allowed on the legally protected green space first heard evidence from education chiefs and their legal teams.

The Bill they are considering would reclassify the park as “alienable Common Good land” and opening it up for education-related development.

Billy MacIntyre, the council’s children and families head of resources, told committee members Siobhan 
McMahon (Labour), James Dornan (SNP), Alison McInnes (Liberal Democrat) and Fiona McLeod (SNP) that the decision to build in green space had “not been taken lightly” and was “by far the best option”.

He said: “The park is the only site of a suitable size that meets all of the requirements for a new school.”

The progress was welcomed by supporters of the park plan.

Sean Watters, chair of Portobello For A New School, said: “I’m confident but it’s now a question of whether the MSPs are convinced of the Bill’s merits.”

Members of Portobello Park Action Group, which opposes the project, stressed it could have negative consequences for green space across Scotland.

Stephen Hawkins said: “Councils are under such pressure to make use of their assets that they will take more and more open space, which invariably is park land.”

Committee members will now decide whether to recommend to parliament that the Bill should proceed, after which they will examine details of the proposed legislation.

Brownfield site rumours abound

AS MSPs met, rumours were swirling that a long-standing council bid for an alternative brownfield site for Portobello High had been successful.

Campaigners in favour of plans to build new premises in Portobello Park said in a Facebook post: “There are reports, as yet unconfirmed, that the council has been successful in its bid for the Baileyfield site. This is good news in that it offers a fallback position if the Private Bill is ultimately unsuccessful.

“However, as we know from the consultation, parents consider Baileyfield to be a very poor site for a school.”

But education chiefs said the process was still ongoing and no conclusion had been reached.
Images of proposed new Portobello High School (JM Architects)

Current building

11,985 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Official opening at Bun-sgoil Taobh na Páirce – Edinburgh’s first dedicated Gaelic Medium Education school

Edinburgh Reporter - 25th September, 2013

Dr Alasdair Allan MSP officially opened Edinburgh’s first dedicated Gaelic school, Bun-sgoil Taobh na Páirce, today.

Dr Allan, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages, was the guest of honour at the school which has been developed on the site of the former Bonnington Primary School in Leith.

Bun-sgoil Taobh na Páirce has a roll of 211 – 58 of them in Primary One – and a further 79 children in the nursery. There are 30 Gaelic speaking staff and the curriculum will be taught entirely in Gaelic.

It has been funded by The Scottish Government and The City of Edinburgh Council.

This morning’s ceremony also marks the launch of the Council’s Gaelic Language Plan. Since 2008 the Council has been working with the public and Bòrd na Gàidhlig to agree the scope and contents of the plan which sets a five year action plan to support the development of Gaelic within the capital.

Head teacher, Anne MacPhail, said: “I’m very proud to be leading the school into a historic new era for Gaelic in the city. The local Leith community have been very welcoming since we moved in and I’m really looking forward to building on the successes of our first few weeks.”

Councillor Paul Godzik, Education, Children and Families Convener said: “Today’s official opening demonstrates the Council’s long-standing support for the development of the Gaelic language and investing in young people and our communities.”

Councillor Deidre Brock, Gaelic spokesperson for the Capital Coalition, said: “Having a dedicated school for Gaelic in the capital is a significant milestone for the Gaelic community and the city. The language is already an important part of daily life for many in Edinburgh, and our Gaelic Language Plan will build on this foundation.

“It is right that Scotland’s capital city helps to promote and develop Gaelic through our schools and institutions, so this unique language and culture can be carried on through the voices of generations to come.”

Dr Allan, Minister for Learning and Scotland’s Languages, said: “Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages, Dr Alasdair Allan, said:
“It’s a privilege to be here today to officially open Bun-sgoil Taobh na Páirce, Edinburgh’s first dedicated Gaelic school.

“This school, and others like it, will help ensure that Gaelic continues to be a vibrant part of our culture, immersing pupils and staff in the language and allowing them to carry it with them throughout their lives.

“Our efforts to encourage a new generation of Gaelic speakers and teachers is already showing encouraging results – as we’ve seen by the 12 per cent rise in pupils entering P1 this year – and the launch of City of Edinburgh Council’s Gaelic Language Plan will mean that its work to promote the language will reach even more people.”

The school is open to anyone who wants their child to have a Gaelic medium education.

Bun-sgoil Taobh na Páirce replaces the Gaelic Medium Education (GME) Unit which was based within Tollcross Primary School and established in 1989. The unit had steadily seen its roll rise over the years as demand for GME has grown.

The name for the new school (Parkside in English) was chosen by staff, pupils and parents to reflect its new location, next to Pilrig Park.

The Scottish Government has also announced an additional £4 million over the next two years will increase the number of places available in Gaelic Medium Education (GME) across Scotland to meet continually rising demand.

Minister for Languages Alasdair Allan announced the extra funding in the week that Edinburgh’s first dedicated GME school Bun-sgoil Taobh na Páirce will have its official opening.

Dr Allan said:-“Attracting children to Gaelic is imperative to maintaining the language as a vital part of our culture. We have made it our goal to increase speaker numbers and preserve Gaelic as a vibrant part of our culture.

“We are already seeing good results with a rise of 12 per cent in pupils entering P1 this year, showing our strategy to encourage a new generation of Gaelic speakers and teachers is working well.

“This week the data on Gaelic speakers collected as part of the 2011 Census will be published. We know that the overall number of speakers has been in decline for some time, reflecting the fact that traditional Gaelic speakers have tended to be in older age groups. That is why encouraging a new generation of Gaelic speakers is so important to the future of the language.

“Recent research by Edinburgh University showed that the vast majority of English speaking Scots believe Gaelic is important to our sense of identity, our heritage and our contemporary culture and support Gaelic education. This is an important time for Gaelic and we must translate this enthusiasm and support for Gaelic into learning opportunities for young and old to create new generations of speakers.”

The additional £2 million per year for the Gaelic Schools Capital Fund will be available to councils to expand GME in their region and was announced by the Finance Secretary John Swinney in his draft budget on September 11, 2013. The additional investment is subject to Parliamentary approval.

11,985 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Developers to build school in green-belt homes bid

Edinburgh Evening News - 22nd October, 2013

Housing developers have vowed to build a new primary school – in return for being allowed to build 600 homes on green-belt land.

The new school will get the go-ahead if planning chiefs approve the controversial proposals to build on land in the south of the city.

David Wilson Homes and Clarendon Planning and Development, working with the Catchelraw Trust, has filed papers confirming it wants to develop a site at Broomhills. 
The proposal comes after planners earmarked land close to Frogston Road East for between 425 and 595 dwellings, which would include a site for a new school to alleviate pressure on Gilmerton and Craigour Park primaries.

It is expected that the school will be financed partly through developer contributions – and comes at a time when Edinburgh has never been more 
in the spotlight in terms of planning.

The city is under strain to balance demand for homes with lack of space and stretched services.

As such, the plan to build at Broomhills has attracted the ire of residents, who warn it would result in the loss of green space and traffic logjams.

Broomhills Farm Cottages resident Dougie Mackaill, 49, who has lived in the area for 12 years, said: “Everybody round here would be dead against this. Obviously they are going to have to build a school somewhere round here because the other schools are at bursting point.

“There’s an argument that there are plenty of other spaces in the city on which this could be built – why does it have to be green space?”

The plans are the latest in a series outlined for the south of the city as population and school rolls continue to rise.

In April, we revealed city chiefs were eyeing land occupied by the Astley Ainslie Hospital for a new primary, with classrooms also in the pipeline for a proposed, 500-home development at Gilmerton Station Road.

Antony Duthie, of Clarendon Planning and Development, said: “Naturally, the proposed local development plan is yet to be ratified and development proposals are at a very early stage.

“At this juncture, however, we can confirm that proposals will include a site for the new primary school in line with Edinburgh City Council’s 

Political leaders stressed the city’s local development plan had still to receive final approval. Councillor Norma Austin Hart, Labour group member for Gilmerton and Liberton, said she will be looking to make sure any funding for a new school “is secure” and with “enough provision”.

She said: “There are implications for secondary schools in the area as well”.

11,985 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Corstorphine Primary School completes

Urban Realm - 28th October, 2013

Hadden Construction have completed the refurbishment and extension of Edinburgh’s Corstorphine Primary School.

The £1.6m project for City of Edinburgh Council consisted of the construction of a contemporary extension clad in render, glazing and stone to complement an existing listed school building (now refurbished)

Designed by Liam Riggans at The City of Edinburgh Council and built by Hadden Construction the project provides an additional three classrooms, two general purpose rooms, an activity space, new entrance, dining room and kitchen.

Works elsewhere saw the demolition of an existing nursery, refurbishment of reception areas and the installation of a lift for the first time.


11,985 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Council planning 17 new classrooms across Edinburgh

Edinburgh Reporter - 31st October, 2013

This is what a new classroom in St David’s RC Primary School might look like when it is built in time for the 2014/15 school year. In August 2013 the council opened 23 new classrooms and now they plan to build 17 more as well as five general purpose spaces, all to be completed by next summer.

Paula McVay, Chair of St David’s RC Primary School Parent Council, said:- “When the Council showed us the proposed designs last month I think a lot of the parents were quite surprised at how new and modern the classrooms looked, nothing like wooden cabins some had imagined. Sustainability is also important and the Council said the type of roofing being used would make fitting solar panels easier in the future which could mean the school sustaining its own energy and heating systems. It’s a shame that the possibility of extending the school for extra classrooms isn’t going to happen but I hope they will still look into this and other options if more classes are needed in the future. If the rising rolls allow us to get the standalone in time for next year it will give us class space that we really need.”

Education Convenor, Councillor Paul Godzik said:- “The Capital Coalition delivered 23 new classrooms in August, which included new build accommodation at Granton, Trinity and Wardie Primary schools. A total of 17 new build classrooms and five general purpose spaces are being considered for next year to deal with rising primary school rolls and I’m extremely encouraged by the positive response we’ve had from parents and staff.

“Primary school rolls in the city are predicted to rise by around 15% by 2019 – bringing our primary school population to over 31,000. That’s why the Capital Coalition doubled the funding available to deal with this issue, and has now committed £15m to deal with the issue.

“Our approach allows us the flexibility to plan much better for the future, and we are working with school communities and parent councils as we move forward. Whether or not it is traditional extensions, new build units or the refurbishment of existing space, we are committed to providing the very best educational environment for our pupils.”

Paul McGirk, Chief Executive of Hub South East Scotland, said:- “The first phase of extensions we delivered for the Council have been very well received, and seeking planning permission for the second phase is a welcome step towards creating even more new modern facilities for pupils and staff. We look forward to continuing our positive relationship with the City of Edinburgh Council on this important programme, further demonstrating Hubco’s commitment to long term partnership working.”

Other schools where new classrooms and general purpose space is to be created include Balgreen Primary School, Broughton Primary School, Craigour Park Primary School, Flora Stevenson’s Primary School, Fox Covert Primary School, Liberton Primary School, Stockbridge Primary School and Victoria Primary School.

The breakdown is :-

Liberton – 5 spaces with 0 GP (general purpose space)

Broughton – 4 spaces, 1 of which is GP

Victoria – 3 spaces, 1 of which is GP

Craigour – 6 spaces, 1 of which is GP

St Davids – 4 spaces, 1 of which is GP and another is to replace a classbase lost in extending the dining area

11,985 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
First phase of £42m school campus project opens

City of Edinburgh Council - 20th November, 2013

The first phase of the £42 million James Gillespie’s campus project was officially opened today (Wednesday 20 November).

Construction work began on site in January 2013 and the first phase has seen the existing nursery and gym at James Gillespie’s Primary School replaced, along with the creation of two new primary classes within the existing school building.

The new classrooms opened at the start of the new school year in August 2013, with the gym and nursery opening their doors to excited pupils following the September break.

With increasing birth rates in many parts of the city, there has been pressure for nursery places in south Edinburgh and the new nursery will provide an extra twenty part time places for local parents, with forty places available in the morning class and forty in the afternoon class.

The two additional classrooms will also support rising rolls and allow the school to meet demand for places from children living within the school catchment area.

This opening formally marks the end of the first phase of the campus project. Moving to the second phase will see the existing James Gillespie’s High School completely replaced in two stages. Demolition work is now well underway on the main school site to allow the construction of the new main teaching block, stage one, to get underway early in the new year.

The final phase of works will see the development of a new sports complex and an expressive arts complex. The project is due for completion by summer 2016. In addition, the A-listed Bruntsfield House at the centre of the campus is also undergoing a major refurbishment.

Councillor Paul Godzik, Convener of Education, Children and Families said: “The James Gillespie’s campus project is unique in that it will provide improved facilities for children from three to 18 years on the same site.

“The new facilities at the primary school have been welcomed by parents and staff and give an early indication of the high quality facilities that will be built at the high school.”

Paul McGirk, Chief Executive of Hub South East Scotland, said: “We are delighted with the progress being made on the James Gillespie’s campus. The completion of the nursery and gym represents the first significant milestone in the redevelopment of the whole campus and, as we now begin the construction of the new high school, we look forward to continuing our successful partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council, ensuring children and staff will benefit from modern, fit for purpose facilities.”

The project is funded by the Scottish Government through their ‘Schools for the Future Programme’ which is managed by the Scottish Futures Trust. Morrison Construction have been appointed contractors for the project.
Images from the RIAS:


11,985 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
City of Edinburgh Council unveil new wave of primary school extensions

Urban Realm - 22nd November, 2013

City of Edinburgh Council has applied for planning permission to extend five primary schools for the start of the 2014/15 school year to meet growing population demands.

The additional accommodation stretches to 17 new classrooms and five general purpose spaces which have been earmarked for the existing Broughton Primary School, Craigour Park Primary School, Liberton Primary School, St David’s RC Primary School and Victoria Primary School.

Cllr Godzik said: "Primary school rolls in the city are predicted to rise by around 15% by 2019 - bringing our primary school population to over 31,000. That's why the Capital Coalition doubled the funding available to deal with this issue, and has now committed £15m to deal with the issue.

"Our approach allows us the flexibility to plan much better for the future, and we are working with school communities and parent councils as we move forward. Whether or not it is traditional extensions, new build units or the refurbishment of existing space, we are committed to providing the very best educational environment for our pupils."

Paula McVay, chair of St David’s RC Primary School Parent Council, added: “When the Council showed us the proposed designs last month I think a lot of the parents were quite surprised at how new and modern the classrooms looked, nothing like wooden cabins some had imagined. Sustainability is also important and the Council said the type of roofing being used would make fitting solar panels easier in the future which could mean the school sustaining its own energy and heating systems.”

Architects have previously expressed criticism at the use of prefabricated, modular systems for relegating good design in favour of budget.

The schools form the second phase of delivery in a programme which has already seen 23 new classrooms built since August.
Broughton Primary School

Victoria Primary School

Craigour Park Primary School

Liberton Primary School

St David’s RC Primary School

11,985 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Portobello High row: MSPs say it should be built

Edinburgh Evening News - 4th December, 2013

MSPs today gave the green light to the legislation to allow a new high school to be built in Portobello Park.

The Scottish Parliament committee set up to scrutinise the Bill paving the way for a replacement Portobello High School recommended its general principles should be approved.

The committee said it had difficulty assessing the loss of amenity if the earmarked site is no longer used as a park, but noted the council’s plans to provide open space to balance the loss.

And it recommended the Bill should be amended to provide safeguards for any future use of the land where the school is to be built to protect its common good status if it ever ceases to be used for an educational purpose.

11,985 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Work starts on £34m new James Gillespie’s school

The Scotsman - 11th December, 2013

Construction has begun on a new £34 million school in Edinburgh, which will replace the former school of Prime of Miss Jean Brodie author Muriel Spark.

Demolition of the existing James Gillespie’s High School building in the Marchmont area of the city is under way, to be replaced by a new teaching block and sports facility.

It follows a new nursery and gym for James Gillespie’s Primary School at the same site.

When it is completed by summer 2016, the High School will house 1,150 pupils and 104 staff.

The Grade A-listed Bruntsfield House on the campus will also undergo a major refurbishment.

The Scottish Government said it is supporting £20 million of the cost of the new school with funding from its £1.25 billion Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme under which 67 new schools are planned.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “In Scotland we are building many new schools, and refurbishing still more to provide an excellent learning environment for staff and pupils.

“Investment in infrastructure projects such as the new James Gillespie’s High School, not only supports jobs and apprenticeships locally, but it also helps the wider Scottish economy.”

Paul Godzik, education convener at Edinburgh City Council, said: “I was really impressed with the high quality facilities at the primary school which I opened last month and those buildings have definitely set the standard for the high school.”

Gemma Gordon, schools programme director with Scottish Futures Trust, said: “SFT’s work in managing the Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme has meant an additional 12 schools will be built from within the existing £1.25 billion budget.

“James Gillespie’s High School is the first revenue-financed project to be delivered by the South East Hub.

“Reaching financial close means construction is under way now rather than waiting many years for capital funding to become available.”

Spark, author of the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, attended what was previously James Gillespie’s High School for Girls.

11,985 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Edinburgh’s James Gillespie High School breaks ground

Urban Realm - 11th December, 2013

Work to build a new James Gillespie’s High School in Edinburgh has commenced with Morrison Construction moving on site of the £34m development.

Designed by JM Architects on behalf of Edinburgh City Council the scheme entails demolition of the existing school alongside refurbishment of the A-listed Bruntsfield House to provide accommodation for 1,150 pupils.

Replicating the use of brick as found in the existing school facades will be interspersed with large format concrete blcoks in limited areas along with some areas of render.

In their design statement JM said: “The new campus proposals considered the importance of Bruntsfield House and its central role in the new school. In addition the historic avenue and the courtyard in front of Bruntsfield House were considered central to
the proposals

“The campus proposal seeks to remove all the buildings to the north of Bruntsfield House and thereby create new or enhanced views of the House from the Primary School entrance gate and from the new High School entrance gate off Warrender Park Road.

“The landscape proposals will enhance the north aspect of the House by recreating an echo of the formal gardens which once existed on the site.”

The new school is scheduled to open its doors in summer 2016.

11,985 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Date set for crunch Porty HS debate

Edinburgh Evening News - 26th December, 2013

The Scottish Parliament has set the date for a crunch debate on legislation aimed at allowing a replacement Portobello High to be built in protected green space.

A debate on Edinburgh City Council’s Portobello Park private bill will take place on January 9 after a four-strong committee of MSPs backed its general principles earlier this month.

The proposed legislation would reclassify Portobello Park as “alienable common good land” and open it up for education-related development.

Amid growing confidence the bill is now set for plain sailing through parliament, Kezia Dugdale, Lothian MSP and Scottish Labour’s shadow cabinet secretary for education, said she had secured a number of public gallery tickets which she would be happy to 

In a Facebook post, she said she was “looking forward to taking part in the debate” and would welcome residents’ thoughts on the “key issues which should be highlighted”.

The parliamentary debate will see MSPs decide whether to accept a recommendation from Labour’s Siobhan McMahon, the SNP’s James Dornan, Liberal Democrat Alison McInnes and the SNP’s Fiona McLeod that the bill’s general principles be approved.

It will then progress to the consideration stage, when committee members will scrutinise details of the proposed legislation, as well as amendments and all remaining objections.

Finally, the bill will return to parliament, where a decision will be taken on whether to accept or reject it.

Leaders of Portobello For A New School (PFANS), which supports the council’s plans, said there was increasing acceptance that the bill would enable work to begin without threatening protected green space elsewhere in Scotland.

Sean Watters, secretary of Portobello community council and PFANS chairman, said he expected the coming debate to be a calm and civilised affair, adding: “Certainly among the local MSPs in the Lothians, the result has been a fair amount of support for its proposals.

“A couple still want to see the detail and assure themselves that the bill is proportionate and won’t affect other common good land in Scotland.

“But the committee’s report is quite clear that the legislation does not set a precedent and just affects Portobello Park. I suspect MSPs will be persuaded by the committee’s recommendations.”

Leaders of Portobello Park Action Group (PPAG) admitted they were disheartened that the principles of the bill had been backed even though the committee had highlighted “serious issues” with the city council’s evidence.

PPAG spokeswoman Alison Connelly said: “Although the private bill committee agreed there are serious issues with the evidence led by Edinburgh council, including the fact that this could set precedent and undermine the safeguards inherent in inalienable common good land, they have shied away from recommending that the bill be rejected.

“We hope that the debate in parliament will address some of the questions that remain unanswered. This is an issue for all of Scotland.”

11,985 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Portobello High School park plan goes to Holyrood

BBC News - 9th January, 2014

A controversial plan to build a school on land which is part of a public park will be considered by MSPs later.

The Scottish Parliament will be asked to back a private bill making it possible to construct a replacement for Portobello High School in Edinburgh.

Some local people have opposed the plan because of the resulting loss of green space.

More than 12,000 people took part in a public consultation organised by the City of Edinburgh Council.

The council described it as "a tremendous response" to the consultation, which closed in January 2013.

Campaigners won a legal battle in September 2012 which blocked the plans to build in Portobello Park.

The private bill in the Scottish Parliament would allow the council to proceed.

The new £41m school was first proposed 10 years ago to replace the ageing 1960s building in Duddingston Road.

11,985 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Portobello High School bill backed by MSPs

Edinburgh Evening News - 9th January, 2014

The bid to build a new Portobello High on common good land has been supported at the Scottish Parliament.

The unanimous decision by MSPs should now mean the private bill will pave the way for a replacement school.

But the wider implications of the local plan have prompted opponents to claim there will be “dire consequences” for green spaces across the country.

The initial proposal for the school stalled when it was ruled at the Court of Session that the city council’s preferred site, Portobello Park, is “inalienable” common good land.

The council now has to secure parliamentary approval to change its use to allow consideration for construction.

Supporters of the plan urge the Scottish Government to work with the council to sort out the “legal loophole” which they say is holding up construction.

Labour MSP Siobhan McMahon, who convenes the Holyrood committee looking at the bill, said it will not set a precedent.

“While we recognise it will be open to other councils to follow this route if they so choose, any such bill would have to be considered on their own circumstances and merits,” she told Parliament.

Local government minister Derek Mackay said a wider approach to common good land will be addressed separately in the proposed Community Empowerment Bill.

“The Government recognises the special place that the common good plays in the life of the nation and many local communities, and this bill in no way erodes that,” he said.

Describing the progress of the Portobello legislation, he said: “I am pleased that we’re now approaching the point where it will be possible for the council to deliver this key project, and from a position which ensure the fullest possible consideration with regard to delivering the best outcome for the Portobello community as a whole.”

The government does not have a view of the merits of the site, he said.

Local Lothians MSPs gave their backing to the school plan.

Labour’s Kezia Dugdale said it had been 2,596 days since the plans to build the new high school were approved by the council.

She told how the existing school had tiny stairwells where pupils were often getting “crushed” while moving between classes.

She said: “There are temporary buildings that have been there for years that the kids are taught maths and technology in. The assembly hall roof blew off when the winds were strong and the school had to be closed for a day.”

Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan dismissed fears it would lead to other areas of common good land being built upon.

“No such danger exists,” he said, adding that the Bill is “about Portobello Park and Portobello Park alone”.

Green MSP Alison Johnstone, a former Edinburgh councillor, said the process has been “deeply divisive” for the local community.

But she said the existing school was “poorly designed” and “had not stood the test of time”.

“The issue now is about the conditions which are attached to the school be built,” she said.

“What assurances can be secured that new playing fields will always be accessible to the community at large? What certainty is there that the old high school site will be transformed into high quality green and open space to be enjoyed for generations to come?”

11,985 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Work to begin on building new Portobello High in the autumn

Edinburgh Evening News - 3rd February, 2014

Work on a new Portobello High School is set to start this autumn – but the delayed project is facing a £2.4 million jump in costs.

City leaders said a private Bill making its way through the Scottish Parliament, which would pave the way for construction to begin on legally protected land in Portobello Park, should obtain Royal Assent by the end of September – seven months later than expected.

New terms for construction have also been proposed, which education bosses admitted could result in an overall cost increase of up to £2.4m. But they stressed the project remained “well within” its £41.5 million budget.

Campaigners in favour of the plans said news of the delay was disappointing.

Sean Watters, chair of Portobello For A New School, said: “I had hoped the consideration stage for the Bill would be a bit quicker but the reality is that the likely opening date for the school is going to be August 2016, as long as it is passed by the end of the year.”

The updated timetable came as city chiefs revealed that building the school on a site at Baileyfield was even less likely after it emerged the council had not been named preferred bidder for the land.

Campaigners said this made it more important than ever to begin work in Portobello Park as soon as possible.

“It looks like the council is not going to be successful with Baileyfield,” said Mr Watters.

“Baileyfield was the least worse of a bunch of bad options. It just emphasises how important the private Bill is so that we can get work on the school started quickly and on what is the best site.”

But campaigners fighting the plans said the new timescales highlighted the inaccuracy of information provided previously by the council.

Portobello Park Action Group member Alison Connelly said: “In addition, it is disappointing that the council continue to refuse to provide adequate breakdown of the differentials in price between the various options, and that they have not properly progressed the twin-track approach they promised in 2012.

“As a result of the council’s refusal to go to court voluntarily in 2008 to determine their legal right to build on this inalienable common good land, the children of Portobello are still waiting for a new school, without any certainty as to when or where it will be built.”

But education bosses insisted the project was on track. Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “It’s right that the parliamentary committee scrutinise our proposals thoroughly and consider the views of all those involved.

“However, we are extremely heartened by the cross-party political support for the general principles of the Bill and we are determined to start work on delivering a fantastic school for Portobello as soon as it receives Royal Assent.

“Given the small delay there is an associated cost increase. However, the project remains well within our allocated budget and considerably less than the proposed alternatives.”

11,985 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Think a couple of these renders are new.

Portobello High School to move on site this autumn

Urban Realm - 4th February, 2014

Edinburgh City Council is to press ahead with a redevelopment of Portobello High School this September following months of wrangling over the contentious use of common good land at Portobello Park.

The £41.5m scheme has been designed by JM Architects and parsons Brinkerhoff structural engineers and will open its doors to pupils in August 2016.

Accommodating 1,400 pupils the school will provide a four lane, 25m pool and present its public face to Milton Road across a landscaped square. These elevations will be finished in cast concrete blocks and acrylic render.

Taking the form of a series of interconnecting blocks the school takes advantage of differences in level to hide a lower floor beneath the level of Milton Road, keeping the building to the same height as neighbouring villas.

Following completion the existing Portobello High will be demolished, with the majority of the site converted to open space – minus 0.6 hectares which will be allocated to St John’s RC Primary.


11,985 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Images show new Portobello High plans

Edinburgh Evening News - 7th February, 2014

They are the kind of facilities that pupils at the city’s crumbling Portobello High School could only dream about.

New images have been released showing how the interior of the new high school will look when building work is complete – and there’s not a leaky radiator in sight.

Structured around a central thoroughfare or “spine”, the 17,000sq m campus – which will replace the school’s dilapidated 1960s premises – is set to feature linking bridges, “sculptural” roof lights, cutting-edge computing pods and public walls capable of functioning as projection screens.

Design teams said their aim was to create a contemporary setting that would function as a “canvas” for pupils’ work while also cementing the school’s strong sense of community.

Deborah McKay, of JM Architects, who worked on the designs, said: “The school has a very wide catchment area and takes pupils from a wide social spectrum. The main idea for us in putting these designs together was communication and transparency.”

Ms McKay said the new building would divide along a central corridor, with classrooms and break-out teaching spaces housed in a series of wings on one side and all-school venues such as the library and assembly hall located on the other.

“Most things in the school will be in black and white, with only a bit of colour,” she said. “The idea is that the children’s work provides the colour.”

Parent representatives said they were delighted with the new designs. Emma Wood, Portobello High parent council member and lecturer in media and communication at Queen Margaret University, said: “It really echoes the design of the new campus at the university and I’ve seen first-hand how that impacts in a very positive way on student learning.”

Education chiefs said the designs reflected their ambition to deliver the “best school possible”.

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “I know people in Portobello will be very excited by these images and in seeing the project move forward. It’s fantastic to see images of the inside of the building – they give a real glimpse of the council’s ambition.”

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Discussion Starter #17
Council faces £18.5m bill for overcrowded schools

Edinburgh Evening News - 26th February, 2014

Seven more city primary schools are set to undergo emergency expansion after the anticipated need for new teaching space to address overcrowding jumped by nearly 30 per cent since last year.

Clermiston, East Craigs, Flora Stevenson, Gilmerton, Pentland, Ratho and Wardie primaries have been lined up to receive the space-boosting revamps by August 2015.

City leaders said 81 new classrooms could now be required to meet the challenge of rising school rolls – up from last year’s estimate of 63 and fuelling a rise in the overall cost of expansion work to £18.5 million.

With £14.9m already allocated, the sudden jump leaves council bosses facing a funding shortfall of £3.6m – before the costs of dealing with additional space pressure at Bruntsfield, James Gillespie’s and South Morningside primaries are factored in.

Education chiefs also said the cost of new dining and food preparation space ahead of the roll-out of free school meals for all P1-3 youngsters from January 2015 was likely to run to “millions”.

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “We’ve got to respond to the numbers of pupils coming through. There’s a real peak in the south and west of the city, and we have to deal with that.”

Education chiefs will pore over action plans for the seven primary schools, with potential measures ranging from new-build accommodation and catchment reviews to extensions and relocation of nursery classes.

Wardie Primary was part of the first phase of the Rising Rolls programme but a second tranche of new accommodation at the school has been included in the latest wave of proposed work.

Cllr Godzik said the rise in the total number of classrooms needed to accommodate the rising school populations had been driven by recent changes in demand at individual primaries across the Capital.

“Tracking pupils from birth to where they go to primary school in a city as fast-changing as Edinburgh is an impossibility,” he said. “But the immediate demand there can and will be met. There’s also work under way in terms of how we will deliver free school meals.”

Government ministers said they were committed to free school meals in Edinburgh and that they would work with Cosla – the body that represents Scotland’s local authorities – to address the new
policy’s “practical implications”.

A spokeswoman said: “We are working in partnership with Cosla to explore how any practical implications will be addressed, building on the experience of the free school meal trial which ran over 2007-08 in order to deliver our commitment on free school meals.”

Building for the future

Clermiston Primary: Provide additional on-site accommodation, possible catchment reviews with East Craigs and Fox Covert primaries.

East Craigs Primary: Probe being carried out into the delivery of a new gym hall at the school, which currently relies on a single hall for both gym and dining provision (P1-3 free school meals will lead to “unsustainable” pressure); the existing building could be extended at a cost of £1.1m.

Flora Stevenson Primary: Study to assess whether three additional teaching spaces can be provided at the existing site, a catchment review and relocation of the nursery will also be looked at.

Gilmerton Primary: Provide additional accommodation, possible catchment review with Craigour Park Primary, internal courtyards could be covered and developed to create new classroom space.

Pentland Primary: Provide additional accommodation at the school.

Ratho Primary: Provide additional accommodation at the school.

Wardie Primary: Designs have been drawn up for a second “tranche” of accommodation, with building and planning consent already secured – education chiefs will now look to take work on the new classrooms forward.

11,985 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
New school to ease pressure on city classrooms

Edinburgh Evening News - 4th March, 2014

Detailed proposals for a new £15 million primary school to ease pressure on south Edinburgh’s squeezed classrooms have been unveiled.

The school – the first entirely new campus to be built in the city for more than 30 years – would ease accommodation problems at South Morningside, James Gillespie’s and Bruntsfield primaries, where scores of children are being taught in crumbling prefabs and church annexes.

But meeting the cost of the new primary – and providing dozens of extra classrooms at other crowded Edinburgh schools – will leave education chiefs facing a funding shortfall of nearly £20m. And the Evening News can reveal they are considering a long-term borrowing plan to fill the gap.

South Morningside, which currently operates across three sites and accommodates a roll approaching 600 in a building designed for 14 classes, is under particular strain, with P1 registrations sitting at 105.

City bosses said building a new 14-class primary in south Edinburgh – first mooted as far back as 1998 – was the “logical solution” to what they have described as untenable “compound” accommodation problems.

They said it would enable them to redraw catchment boundaries and remove pressure from the three affected primaries.

But they have admitted the £15.3m cost of building a brand new south Edinburgh primary is “significant” and will also explore two alternative solutions – a £14m annexe for P1-3 classes from South Morningside and a £5.7m plan of co-ordinated measures to boost classroom space at existing school sites.

The south Edinburgh squeeze is so acute it is being considered separately from a wider rising rolls programme. Last week we revealed how education chiefs were weighing up an £18.5m spend on 81 new classrooms across the Capital to cope with the growing pressure.

Worried parents have urged education leaders to move quickly to head off an over-subscription crisis similar to that which recently hit Hillhead Primary in Glasgow, where catchment families were told they no longer have an automatic right to send children to the school after it emerged the number of youngsters enrolled was greater than the places available.

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “We recognise that there’s an issue there. These are very constrained sites and already have temporary accommodation within the school grounds.

“We have still to get certainty over a site but we are assessing possibilities at a number of sites for a new school or an off-site annexe.

“If we put in the immediate and short-term measures in place, it will help us for a number of years but the fact remains that there’s a long-term pressure there.” Practical problems faced by the three schools include limits to the range of learning activities available, inadequate ventilation, excessive noise levels, and increased risk of disease caused by large numbers of pupils sharing one or two *toilets in temporary buildings.

There have also been reports of some children being forced to eat lunch at their desks because of a lack of dining space.

Building a new primary will create a major financial headache for city leaders, who have allocated £14.9m to deal with rising rolls but admit they now face a combined £34m bill to construct the school and provide dozens of classrooms elsewhere in the city.

Details on how the council will bridge a funding gap which could reach £19.3m have not been provided, *although it is thought the cost of proposed works could be contained within the council’s existing borrowing limit.

But even if education bosses are able to negotiate a loan to fund their entire rising rolls programme, the city is facing a total provisional charge – *including interest over a 20-year period – of £56m.

Council leaders stress the expense cannot be avoided.

“South Morningside, in *particular, is a three-site *primary which highlights that there’s a real need to deliver a permanent solution,” said Cllr Godzik.

“Building a new school is back on the agenda after being forgotten for the best part of two decades. A new primary school is the most logical solution but there are advantages and disadvantages to all of the possible solutions that we can put forward. It’s incumbent on us to have a discussion on these with parents and the school communities.”

The proposal to build a new primary in south Edinburgh has also received strong backing from parents at the three primaries, who warned against “carving up” schools to create teaching space.

In a deputation due to be presented to education bosses 
today, leaders of James Gillespie’s parent council welcomed the information provided on the new proposals but say not enough has been done to address the particular challenges faced by their school.

They state: “We are especially concerned that the particular characteristics of James Gillespie’s Primary School are not emphasised in the paper before you today.

“Our school is a small, open-plan building constructed at a time of budget constraint, and suffers from significant issues of noise and lack of general purpose space. The whole school will be affected by rising rolls, not just the P1 intake, and the impact on teaching and learning across the whole school must be considered.”

Antonis Giannopoulos, chair of Bruntsfield Primary parent council, said: “We are coping. At the moment things are not desperate but if the numbers continue to rise, other measures have to be found. There’s no easy solution to this.

“The situation is more urgent for South Morningside and James Gillespie’s but we do not want to be complacent. Overall for the area, a new school is a good idea. It takes pressure from everybody – it would be the right thing to do.”

Cllr Melanie Main, Green education spokeswoman and councillor for Meadows-Morningside, said: “Families in the area need a clear decision.”


Early “investigatory” work into possible sites for a new school is under way:

• Astley Ainslie Hospital was an early suggestion, after education chiefs said they were in “active” discussions with NHS bosses, but no certainty on this option has yet been offered.

• Craighouse was touted during early discussions but now appears firmly off the agenda.

• With plans under way for a massive redevelopment of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital in Morningside, could land here be freed up for a new primary?

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Discussion Starter #19
Erskine Stewart’s Melville to revamp classrooms

Edinburgh Evening News - 17th April, 2014

One of the Capital’s top private schools has unveiled ten-year plans for a transformation of its junior campus.

Erskine Stewart’s Melville Schools (ESMS) have embarked on a radical overhaul of classrooms for around 600 youngsters in primaries 4-7 to provide new teaching blocks and bespoke facilities in specialist subjects such as science and PE. Leaders at the institution, which charges fees of up to £19,000-a-year, say they want to create an education environment “fit for the 21st century”.

Among the planned projects – set to be phased over the next seven to ten years and dependent on future funding – are demolition of a number of now empty classrooms and the construction of two entirely new teaching blocks.

David Gray, ESMS principal, said: “It’s a major redevelopment for us but the junior school has grown exponentially over the last 20 years and we now have 1200 junior school children. The new developments will create something exclusive for them.”

The landmark revamp of the historic school is well under way, with a number of P4-5 pupils already decanted so ageing buildings can be completely knocked down ahead of the construction of a brand new teaching block. There will be other major additions to the school site, including a pedestrian entrance, courtyard spaces and a music extension.

“Some of these things the junior school doesn’t have,” said Mr Gray. “It shares some specialist facilities with the senior school.

“There are a number of phases to this which we will undertake as funds allow. We are keen to redevelop the junior school to provide facilities fit for the wide range of educational activities our pupils are involved in.”

The plans, which are subject to consultation, have been welcomed by local political leaders.

Councillor Iain Whyte, Conservative member for Inverleith, said: “Anything they do to improve their facilities is generally helpful. It’s obviously helpful for jobs, there’s the construction, and then there are the educational benefits. And these benefits are wider than Inverleith – they are potentially throughout the city as well.”
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