School closures: Parents threaten boycott of plans to move pupils

Parents at one of the Edinburgh high schools shut down over safety fears are threatening to boycott council plans to send their youngsters to a site on the other side of the city.

Gracemount High School is one of the affected schools. Picture: Julie Bull

Alternative arrangements have now been announced for all 7,700 pupils affected by the 17 school closures - including some pupils being taught in university accommodation.

But concerns are growing that time taken out of the school day by the need to travel to other locations could mean some children losing around 55 hours of education if buildings have to stay closed until the summer.

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Parents at Gracemount High School are angry the plan involves their S1-S3 students being taken by coach to Wester Hailes Education Centre (WHEC) each day. Gracemount’s S4-6 pupils have already been relocated to Liberton High.

One member of the parent council said: “We realise the council has had to act swiftly in this unprecedented situation, but it’s the wrong decision they are taking. This solution is not viable in the long term.

“Gracemount is being split in two. The teaching staff have been amazing, but teachers can’t be split in two.

“Quite rightly, they have prioritised the pupils with exams, but it means children are not all being taught by their own teachers.”

She said many parents were not willing to send their children to Wester Hailes.

“It’s not the fact it’s Wester Hailes, it’s about the logistics and the impact on teaching.

“The plan seems to be pupils would be picked up at 9am for a 9:30am start at WHEC, then leave to come back at 2:50pm to get them back for collection, so already the school day is shortening.

Amanda Campbell, chair of the WHEC parent council, said she was going to write to the parent council at Gracemount to invite them to their next meeting after negative comments had appeared on social media.

“We just want them to feel welcome,” she said. “We all want the best for our kids and we have to work together.”

A council spokeswoman, said: “Following discussions and risk assessments with head teachers, we decided that whenever possible we should place pupils in other schools which are well equipped for their needs.”