Maltese family left in limbo over music school closure

Simon Mercieca and his family moved to Scotland from Malta so he could attend the school. Picture: Greg Macvean
Simon Mercieca and his family moved to Scotland from Malta so he could attend the school. Picture: Greg Macvean
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They relocated their family more than 2,000 miles across Europe so their child could indulge in a lifelong passion for music.

Now a Maltese family fear they may be left in limbo if the world-renowned music school their eldest son attends is closed down by Edinburgh City Council as a cost-cutting measure.

Daniela and Duncan Mercieca said they had “found a home” in the capital since swapping the seaside town of St Julian’s on the Mediterranean island for a duplex in Silverknowes in July last year so that eight-year-old son Simon could indulge his passion for music at the City of Edinburgh Music School.

Plans to close the school, based in Broughton High in the Comely Bank area of the city, were presented by the council as part of their annual budget proposals, with the intention of redistributing the school around four locations in the city.

Mrs Mercieca admitted she “doesn’t know what will happen” if the cash-strapped authority presses ahead with proposals to close the school in an effort to shave around £380,000 from its annual budget.

An educational psychologist, Daniela said both her and her husband took a “career sabbatical” to make the move.

She said her son, who plays piano and violin, would be “devastated” if the school closed. “Music is something that just comes naturally to Simon,” she said. “It is almost like breathing to him.

“Everyone around the school, from the teachers to the other parents, it’s less like a community and more like a family because everyone is in the same boat.

“They all understand music and what it means in the same way. If the school does close I don’t know what will happen. At the moment it doesn’t bear thinking about.”

The family had little connection with Scotland before moving other than Mr Mercieca pending a year at Stirling University while studying for a PhD in inclusive education.

“We moved to Scotland just after the Brexit vote, so we were already concerned about what would happen after that is done and now there is the threat of the school shutting,” Mrs Mercieca said.

Opponents of the school closure have called the plans “deceptive,” claiming the savings made would be negligible. They have said closing the facility, which helped launch the early careers of the likes of Garbage lead singer Shirley Manson, would deprive Scotland of a “national centre of excellence”.

Trainspotting star Ewen Bremner yesterday backed a reprieve for the threatened school where his daughter Harmony was a recent graduate.