The deadline has passed for feedback on alternative possible site options for Portobello High School. The tight timescales made it difficult to gather opinions, but Towerbank School Council did agree the following response:
Dear Gillian Tee,
Thank you for your letter outlining the options for the new Portobello high school and for requesting feedback from the school community. Towerbank School Council met on Monday to discuss the site options presented and we agreed the following unanimously:
All members present agreed with Edinburgh City Council that the park remains by far the best option for siting a new school and we are encouraged that the Council is pursuing all legal means possible to achieve this end.
Should this fail, our preferred fall-back option would be to build a new high school at the Baileyfield site.
We give this as our preferred alternative site because it has the most potential for further development being next to Standard Life, and because of its proximity to sports facilities at the Pitzs. A new build at Baileyfield also has the great benefit of not requiring a decant or on-site phased construction which would be so disruptive to pupils and teaching staff.
We recognise that a new school at Baileyfield is by no means ideal both being too small a site for the school and being on the northern extreme of the catchment. It is also flanked by two main roads and there are concerns about , safety getting to and from the school, pollution from traffic and railroads and congestion. These would clearly need to be addressed.
Our second alternative preference would be to rebuild a school on the existing site with phased construction and the proviso that sports pitches would be made available at Portobello park. The members of the school council raised concerns over a decant as there doesn’t seem to be a suitable site for pupils to be relocated to and risks undermining the quality of education and the cohesiveness of the school community. Concerns were also raised over the relocation of St Johns and the delays this would add to the process.
Finally, we would discount the Brunstane site as it is out of catchment and it is likely that planning would be a major obstacle to it being built.
Similarly, all members are opposed to a combined school in Craigmillar, the location being out of catchment with longer journey times and less opportunity to travel by foot or bicycle. In addition to the location, many are opposed to a school as large as this. While it is very important that the site chosen is big enough to provide adequate facilities, it is also very important that the school is in the heart of the catchment area.
While these are the views of parent representatives they by no means include all the views of the Towerbank school community and parents and carers at the school have also been encouraged to send individual responses to Edinburgh City Council directly by email.
Sarah Fairbrother (Chair)