Our school is at risk if Gaels quit for new site

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Parents of English-speaking pupils at Tollcross Primary School say they fear it could face closure if their Gaelic-speaking schoolmates are taught elsewhere.

&#149 Naomi Hare, left, and Julie Barker fear the school split

The city council is holding a consultation on the future of Gaelic Medium Education (GME), which explores two options in response to massive growth in demand.

One, favoured by Gaelic parents group Comann nam Prant, would see all primary-level GME move to a new dedicated school at the former Bonnington Primary. The other option would see GME at Tollcross extended.

The school has 293 pupils, of whom 158 study in Gaelic and 135 in English.

The parents' comments came as the Scottish Parliament's Cross Party Group on Gaelic said it would back the move to Bonnington.

Juliet Barker, who has a 10-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter studying in English at the school, fears that separating the two parts of the school would remove its multi-cultural atmosphere. She said: "Beyond the fact that we've been assured that the English school will stay open, very little concern has been shown about the impact of either option on the mainstream school.

"It's a wonderful school and we'd be very sorry to see the Gaelic children go if they move. It's a shame that the Tollcross model, which has worked very well, couldn't be replicated elsewhere instead of breaking up the school.

"Although we've been reassured in writing that the school will not close, there are still worries that should the Gaelic school move, Tollcross will be under-occupied and the education department has stated that it would be under-occupied to such an extent that it would fall within the parameters of what they would look for when they want to close a school."

Naomi Hare, who has an 11-year-old daughter at the school, said she was worried that the practicalities of separating the Gaelic school had not been thought through. "It's going to be a bad divorce if it goes through," she said.

"It's also a concern that parents in the catchment don't realise that there's an English school there and that it's separate from the Gaelic."

One parent, who did not want to be named, was concerned that parents at the English part of the school were not being properly engaged in the consultation process. She said: "The Gaelic side are very middle class, well-educated people but on the English side it's an inner city school - it's a different demographic.

"It would be less of an issue if they'd taken the mainstream school with them, but people (on the English side] have shut down because they feel that they've been excluded."

She said she also feared the whole process could sour relations between parents in the two parts of the school.

The consultation closes on Monday.


MEMBERS of the Scottish Parliament's cross-party group on Gaelic are to write to the city council to back moves for a stand-alone Gaelic primary school at Bonnington after hearing from Gaelic parents group Comunn nam Prant at its last meeting ahead of the May elections.

Group Convener John Farquhar Munro said parents and pupils in Edinburgh should benefit from the same Gaelic provision offered in cities such as Glasgow and Inverness. He said: "We understand the council is largely supportive of this initiative and as a group were keen to encourage them to take this next step." A council spokesman said: "There are pros and cons with both options and that's why we are very keen to hear as many views as possible."