£100m plan to upgrade five schools in Capital unveiled

SCHOOLS across the Capital would be rebuilt or refurbished as part of a £100 million scheme unveiled by the council today.

At least five city schools would be revamped under the plans, which will be the subject of a bid for Scottish Executive funding in the new year.

James Gillespie's and Boroughmuir high schools are to be included in the programme, which will also cover the planned replacement of Portobello High School and St John's Primary School, in Portobello.

St Crispin's Special School, in Blackford, would be the fifth to be overhauled. A small number of other primary schools could be added to the list later.

The work would not only help thousands of pupils, but also benefit the wider community by offering access to improved sports and other facilities.

In two earlier PPP programmes in Edinburgh, the council teamed up with private developers to rebuild or refurbish 25 schools at a cost of 680m.

The Scottish Executive will choose whether the new work would be carried out under a similar private partnership when it decides whether to fund the programme. The final decision is expected after May's elections.

Councillor Andrew Burns, the city's education leader, said: "We are investing in future generations of children in Edinburgh and our communities will benefit from continued levels of investment in school buildings.

"Pupils and staff deserve fresh and stimulating environments to work and learn in. These modern buildings are not just for schools but deliver improved sports and community facilities for their areas."

It is thought the cost of the programme could be between 80m and 100m, though adding primary schools would cost extra.

The council could scale down its plans if the Executive agrees to only part-fund them.

The run-down James Gillespie's High School would probably be refurbished on its current site, but it is hoped the four other schools would be demolished and rebuilt.

The Gillespie's school board has estimated that around 6m is needed to bring it up to scratch.

The school's original 1605 building is in a good state, but six annexes built in the 1960s and 1970s have unsafe brickwork, changing rooms which have been described as "hazardous" by a council report, and sub-standard fire doors.

Cllr Burns said he hoped it would be possible to rebuild Boroughmuir, in Viewforth, and St Crispin's.

"My personal preference would be for those two to have new buildings, that's what we would work towards. But it's not going to be easy to find locations," he said.

The council has an option to buy part of the Scottish & Newcastle Brewery site in Fountainbridge, a stone's throw away from the current Boroughmuir High School, at its market value.

However, this could prove too expensive depending on how much money the local authority gets from Scottish Executive.

Staying at the current Boroughmuir High School building would also prove problematic. It is full to bursting point and pupils spend half their allotted PE time travelling to sports facilities outside the school because there are none on site.

Cllr Burns is also keen that pupils at St Crispin's, built in the 1960s, pupils get a new building that is up to the standard set by recently built ones such as Oaklands and Braidburn. "St Crispin's is the special school in most urgent need of an update and its pupils' needs can be best achieved in a new build," he said.

Portobello residents have been voting on where their new high school and new St John's Primary should be built - on the current site, the park, or the golf course - in a project which will cost between 41.5m and 56.5m.

Building a typical new secondary school would cost about 30m and a new special school about 7m. The cost of land for new-builds, could be off-set by the sale of old sites.

Seventeen schools have been rebuilt or refurbished at a cost of 130m under the city's first PPP scheme. A further eight high schools are to be built at an eventual cost of 550, under the second project, the most expensive project of its kind in Scotland.

The facts

Schools refurbished or rebuilt as part of the 130 million PPP1 project.

• Primary Schools: Broomhouse , Castleview, Craigour Park ,

Craigroyston, Forthview, Oxgangs, Pirniehall, St David's,

St Joseph's, St Peter's.

• Special Schools: Braidburn and Rowanfield.

• High Schools: Craigmount, Drummond, Firrhill, Gracemount, the Royal High.

Schools set to be rebuilt as part of the 550 million PPP2 project.

• Primary Schools: Bonaly and

Juniper Green.

• High Schools: Craigroyston, Forrester , St Augustine's, Holy Rood, Broughton, Tynecastle.

Schools planned for rebuilding or refurbishment in a new bid for funding to be sent to the Scottish Executive.

• St Crispin's Special School.

• St John's Primary School.

• High Schools: Portobello, James Gillespie's, Boroughmuir.

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