AN urgent review into ways of accommodating soaring rolls in the Capital’s primary schools is to look at adding extensions to five primary schools.
Primary school rolls have already seen a five per cent increase this year and are expected to grow by a further 19 per cent by 2019 as immigration and birth rates continue to climb.
Education leaders said they would seek cross-party views on dealing with the impact of the city’s rising classroom population.
Councillors said the pressure on five primaries – Balgreen, Granton, Trinity, Victoria and Wardie – was such that construction of new extensions may be required to ensure places are provided for catchment populations.
They also admitted the use of general purpose spaces, such as computer suites, libraries and arts and music rooms, would need to be reviewed in light of projected growth in school numbers.
The announcement was attacked by opposition leaders, who said the earlier decision to close seven Edinburgh primaries meant the council’s options were now limited.
Councillor Gavin Corbett, Green party member for Fountainbridge and Craiglockhart, and member of the council’s education committee, said: “My main concern is how did we get into this position and how do we avoid it in future?
“The council may have put itself between a rock and a hard place in accommodating all catchment children in some schools, forced to look at options like temporary units which lose playground space or pressing into use rooms which might otherwise be used for art, music or computing.
“Yet this was all so predictable. Over the last five years the council closed seven primary schools in the full knowledge that the birth rate was rising.
“So, beyond the immediate pressure, the real challenge is to plan for the long term and that means looking at new school provision, catchment areas and promoting schools which can deal with extra numbers.”
Cllr Cameron Rose, Conservative education spokesman and member for Southside and Newington, said: “The increasing pressure on some school rolls means that it is essential we do what we can in order to enable parents to send their children where they want to.
“So I welcome this – it is something that will meet the demands of parents.”
Cllr Paul Godzik, education, children and families leader, 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 been invited to participate. By doing this, we aim to discuss the issues in an open way from the start of the decision-making process.”
He added: “Thriving schools like Sciennes and Stockbridge primary schools are delivering first-class education, even though the space is at a premium.
“I think it is only right with the predicted rise in school rolls that we consider reviewing general purpose space across the city.”