The future of Castlebrae Community High School set to be exammined

Councillor Paul Godzik, Convener of the Education, Children and Families Committee sets out his views on the potential closure of Castlebrae Community High School:

Telling parents that we're considering closing their school is never good news and never something that's taken lightly.

When I became Convener of Education, Children and Families in May this year, I knew there would be many challenges ahead.  One thing I was clear about from the start was that decisions made by the Capital Coalition must focus on what was best for Edinburgh's pupils.

So with that in mind, it seems clear to me that we cannot ignore the problems that a school faces when it has so few pupils choosing to attend.  The problems associated with Castlebrae have been around for some time but it is worth noting staff have made efforts over the years to improve the situation.

However, the educational arguments to explore a possible closure of Castlebrae Community High School are very strong but I am adamant that no decision has yet been made to close the school.  It is crucial that we consult fully with everyone to understand how they could be affected and only when we have that full picture can we come to a proper conclusion about what is best.

I know the threat of closure has hung over some primary and secondary schools for a number of years but its now time to bring an end to that uncertainty. 

Yes, we do need to look at Castlebrae, but I can say that its problems come from its unique situation - no matter what the outcome is here, I can say for sure that no other primary or secondary school in Edinburgh will be closed during the lifetime of this administration.

Indeed, despite the set-back we have received around the new Portobello High School development we are determined to make sure a new school is built as soon as possible.  Our pupils deserve a learning environment that will help them grow and thrive and we want to make sure this is the case for all of them.

Some people may ask how we can afford to keep half empty schools open. The reality is that we know that increased birth rates mean that those primary schools with low rolls just now will see their numbers increase in the next few years and will be needed to meet the future demand for places.  Indeed, we are currently looking to increase capacity in the primary sector, with plans for a number of school extensions, and we have a strong desire to see an additional primary school in the South of the city.

In the secondary sector, we're seeing improvements across the board, apart from Castlebrae, and improved results combined with the predicted increases from birth rates and new building developments means that our secondary schools have a bright future ahead.

I hope that parents who were maybe worried in the past that their local school is too small to survive can now support it fully knowing its future is secure.

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