A local mum has reacted angrily to news that the city council may have to extend Granton Primary School – just a year after closing nearby Royston. Mandy Eng has written to education chiefs to express her disgust and also to warn that blaming migration for increasing school rolls could ‘make a volatile situation much worse’.
Earlier this month, Councillor Paul Godzik, Convener of Education, Children and Families, explained the rationale behind another review of school buildings. He said: said: “One of our earliest coalition decisions was to set up a cross-party Forum on Children and Families Estate Evaluation. Parents, union and church representatives have also been invited to participate. By doing this we aim to discuss the issues in an open way from the very start of the decision making process.”
The council believes that while some of the issues are longer term and can be addressed over a number of years, immediate action may be required for five schools – Balgreen, Granton, Trinity, Victoria and Wardie – to ensure they can provide places for their catchment population in August 2013, and plans to build ‘high quality extensions if required to support parents who wish to send their child to a catchment school.’
Councillor Godzik continued: “Thriving schools like Sciennes and Stockbridge Primary schools are delivering first class education, even though space is at a premium. I think it is only right with the predicted rise in school rolls that we consider reviewing GP space across the city.”
Education leaders cite a combination of rising birth rates, migration and economic factors for causing a 5% rise in the city’s primary school population this year and an estimated rise of a further 19% by 2019. However Mandy Eng, parent of a child at Granton Primary, believes there is also another reason – school closures. In a letter to Director of Education Gillian Tee, she said:
‘I am a parent of a pupil at Granton Primary School and have just received a letter from you entitled “Rising Rolls in Primary Schools” and am absolutely furious in regard to its content.
You state that the reasons the school is under pressure to accommodate pupil numbers is “due to a combination of rising birth rates, migration and other economic factors” and this will require you to look at increasing the number of classrooms in the coming year. However, no where do you mention that one of the other catchment schools in the area, Royston Primary, was demolished last year which would easily have accommodated this rise in number of pupils. Having failed to acknowledge this I feel you are not taking any ownership of an issue that has obviously arisen through lack of foresight from Children and Families Dept.
I attended all of the public meetings to save Royston Primary School from closure and I myself pointed out to your representatives at the first meeting that their figures on birth rates did not equate, then again at the second meeting when the “altered” figures STILL did not equate and was then surprised to see that the slide in relation to these figures had been omitted from further presentations from yourselves. Were the Council so desperate to close Royston and use its running costs and the sale of the land to plough elsewhere into the Council that they brushed the birth rate figures under the carpet or are your analysts incapable of working out simple projected figures? To now be looking at spending public money on extending Granton only one year since Royston’s closure is both appalling and unacceptable.
Also by apportioning blame to “migration” I feel you are causing a feeling of resentment to the migrants in our community and I go as far as to say that the Council is inciting racism and making an already volatile situation in some areas much worse. Already I have heard parents say that it is due to the amount of foreign children coming into the area that their child may not get a place in their catchment school and I have been forced to remind them that if we still had Royston School then this situation would never have arisen.
I am keen to know why the Council did not take information on the projected number of school age children in the area, that was easily obtainable at the time of the decision to close Royston, into consideration and who is going to take responsibility for this MASSIVE error?’
Mandy Eng told NEN: “I feel that it is something that needs to be brought to the attention of the community, and everyone needs to be made aware that there is a possibility that their child may not get a place at the school – not through “migration”, but through the council’s decision to close Royston School.”
The council is expected to Ms Eng’s letter in due course.