Greens in appeal over Edinburgh school closures

Green councillors have made an eleventh hour appeal to fellow councillors over school closures

City of Edinburgh Council is due to decide the fate of four primary schools on Thursday 17 December 2009.  Following a period of consultation, city officials are recommending that all four schools, Fort, Royston, Burdiehouse and Drumbrae, are closed as planned, despite massive parent opposition.

The Greens have prepared a summary leaflet for parents explaining why they think the closures should not go ahead.  Green Education Spokesperson, Cllr Alison Johnstone, said:

I have attended most of the closures meetings and seen first hand the sheer passion that parents and the wider community have for their local schools.

But it is not just passion.  Parents have asked searching questions about the educational and financial cases for closure which the City Council has struggled to answer.  What will this do to the national policy of lowering class sizes?  Can receiving schools cope with a new influx of children?  Why are we closing schools when the number of primary-aged children is set to grow significantly in the future?

I am also astonished that the City Council has dramatically revised its financial case in the last week.  Having been deliberating this for months, all of a sudden new figures are pulled from the hat without the time for others to scrutinize them sufficiently.

Cllr Johnstone added:

I know that several of my Liberal Democrat and SNP colleagues will be preparing to vote for closures with a heavy heart.  They will have been told that the only way to protect all school budgets from cuts of 9% is to close some schools.  But like me, they will be deeply uncomfortable with saving scraps for most schools only at the cost of depriving some communities of a school altogether.

That is no choice at all. This time I urge them to follow their conscience.