Edinburgh is a desirable place to live, but that popularity creates some challenges. As more and more families choose to make Edinburgh their home, the city council faces an ongoing struggle to ensure there are enough school places to meet demand.
Four new buildings – providing 18 classrooms – have been built at Victoria, St David’s RC, Craigour Park and Broughton Primary Schools, and five extra class spaces have been created to meet increased pressure at Stockbridge, Bruntsfield, Fox Covert and Gylemuir. This programme has ensured that hundreds of new pupil places were ready across the city for the start of the school term.
The £3.8m Council investment has been carried out in conjunction with partners Hub South East Scotland Ltd and Morrison Construction.
Victoria Primary School had a special opening ceremony on Wednesday, with 93-year-old local resident George Hackland, who attended the school in 1927, as their guest of honour (pictured above).
George, said: “The new building is very different from when I was a pupil at the school 80 years ago! It’s nice and big and open for the children to learn in. It’s a great school who do a lot with the local community.”
Laura Thomson, head teacher at Victoria Primary School, said: “There’s a real buzz of excitement around the school with the new classrooms opening. Staff and pupils have watched them being built over the past few months so to start teaching in them will be great as they will provide a bright and stimulating learning environment. The children are so excited about starting the school year in their brand new classrooms.”
Councillor Paul Godzik, Education Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “I’m delighted that for the second year in a row we have successfully delivered much-needed class spaces for our primary schools pupils. While many local authorities across the United Kingdom struggle to find sustainable solutions to the increase in pupil numbers the Capital Coalition has delivered 46 new rooms in two years.
“Dealing with rising rolls is a challenge, but it is a challenge we are meeting. However we know that with primary school rolls currently projected to rise to a peak of nearly 31,000 pupils by 2019 there is still a lot more work to be done. That’s why the Capital Coalition is committed to tackling the rise and despite the difficult economic climate we’ve already pledged £15m to build the required accommodation.
“We will continue to listen to parents’ views and work with school communities as we move forward together on our plans for even more new class spaces. Whether it is traditional extensions, new buildings or the refurbishment of existing space, we are committed to providing the very best educational environment for our pupils.”
Jo Elliot, Chair of Hub South East Scotland Ltd, said: “This is the second year running that we have successfully delivered additional classrooms on schedule and on budget for the City of Edinburgh Council, and we are proud to have played our part in finding innovative solutions to assist with the issue of rising school rolls.
“Last year’s projects were very well received, and this year we’ve kept the same high quality design and construction, whilst reducing the cost for the Council. We look forward to continuing this successful working relationship in future phases, ensuring staff and pupils benefits from modern, fit for purpose facilities.”
David Wilson, Project Director for Morrison Construction, said: “We are delighted to be able to continue our relationship with the City of Edinburgh Council and Hub South East Scotland Ltd and have successfully together, for the second year running, completed the construction of additional classroom space to meet the changing needs of the schools involved with regarding to rising school rolls. We hope the pupils and staff will enjoy their first academic year in the brand new facilities.”
The breakdown of classrooms in the new buildings is Victoria (4), St David’s RC (4), Craigour Park (6) and Broughton (4). Both St David’s RC and Craigour Park have a second phase of more classrooms designed if they are needed in future years.
The Council has identified nine more primary schools where additional classrooms may be required for the 2015/16 session to meet the increased demand from catchment pupils and are already starting to plan for the delivery of these for August 2015 should they be needed.