IT is a debate that has rumbled on for years, causing hundreds of pupils to miss out on a new school.
Now, parents and children at Portobello High who are campaigning for a new school to be built on a community park have produced a short film explaining why the area needs a new school.
The 60-second animation – called Porty High-Ya – is based on children’s drawings and observations, and urges residents to vote yes to the council’s proposal to pursue a Private Bill to allow the new school to be built on Portobello Park.
Porty High-Ya was conceived, scripted, animated and produced in just two weeks by members of the community who donated their services free of charge. Pupils did drawings and recorded voiceovers.
As well as talking about their pride in their teachers, the pupils say the building “sways in the wind”, talk about the “crush” that develops on the narrow stairs and lament the fact their generation has missed out on a new school.
Education chiefs’ plans to build a new school on the park were scuppered when the Court of Session upheld an appeal by Portobello Park Action Group (PPAG) in September, which ruled that the council could not build there as it is common good land.
The film is part of a big push by local parents who support the city council’s proposal to take a Private Bill to the Scottish Parliament early next year to address the legal issue currently preventing it from building on the park.
The original idea came from Portobello resident Alistair Brown, who has two children at Portobello High School.
Alistair said: “I thought it would be a good idea to make a short film that explained the key issues and, importantly, to ask the community to support building on Portobello Park.”
Alistair enlisted the support of fellow Portobello resident and advertising professional Gareth Howells, who scripted the film, basing it on the comments and views of Portobello High pupils about what it’s like to be taught in the ageing 1960’s tower block.
Gareth said: “A broad range of people gave their time and expertise for free”
Councillor Paul Godzik, the city’s education leader, said: “This video really shows what the pupils are experiencing at the moment and supports our view that we need to get the school built as soon as possible.”
However, PPAG spokeswoman Alison Connelly said: “We agree that Portobello High school is in urgent need of replacement, but we would prefer to see the council deliver it on one of the alternative sites.
“The Private Bill is breaking new ground – nothing like this has ever been used before in Scotland to try to circumvent a Court of Session judgement. We should be able to get a new high school and keep the park.”
To view the video, visit www.newportyhigh.org.uk.