Parents still confident they can force school axe U-turn

PARENTS of children in three axed Edinburgh primary schools say they are still hopeful of forcing an eleventh hour U-turn.

Education bosses confirmed yesterday that the schools would be put forward for closure after a consultation process.

Parents are gearing up, however, to state their case one last time to councillors, who will have to give their final approval on whether the schools will close for good at a council meeting next Thursday.

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Following a six-week consultation, education bosses decided that Lismore Primary, in Bingham, and Bonnington Primary, in Leith, will close at Christmas, while Westburn Primary, in Wester Hailes, will shut next June.

But parents desperate to keep their schools open hope to appeal to councillors to vote to keep their schools open.

Maggie Paterson, chairwoman of Lismore Primary School's parent council, said she remained confident campaigners would convince councillors to vote against closing the school.

The Lismore Parents Action Group plan to put forward proposals for a temporary merger with St John's Primary in Portobello while its school building is refurbished.

Mrs Paterson said: "Half of our school has already gone to St John's and by inviting them here, we are still keeping the primary education in Bingham until we are in a position to do something else.

"I think they will go for it. I'm very excited about this because it's killing two birds with one stone.

"I still feel very confident."

David Corcoran, a member of the parents group fighting plans to close Westburn, is shocked the council has decided to recommend the school for closure.

The parents at Westburn thought they had a strong case after education bosses admitted to a series of blunders in the consultation regarding the school's roll, facilities and condition of the building, which formed part of the justification for closure

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Mr Corcoran said: "This beggars belief. It's disgraceful that they are going to close down a school that has better facilities and is in better condition than the ones they plan to send our children to."

Mr Corcoran now plans to rally other parents as soon as possible with a view to giving a deputation at next week's council meeting.

Stewart Muir, former co-chairman of Bonnington's parent council, decided at the end of June to remove his son Brandon from the school because of the uncertainty over its future.

He says he definitely made the right decision as "scaremongering" strengthened the council's case against the school.

He said: "They started the scaremongering about the school closing and then there were hardly any pupils left at the school so they had a valid point in saying the school is not viable."

A review of the school estate was carried out following a massive decrease of 6000 pupils in the city in the last ten years, meaning there are currently 9500 spare primary school places. The depleted numbers in the three schools are costing the council as much as 16,000 per pupil per year, compared to a city average of 3000.

Education leader, Councillor Marilyne MacLaren, said the decision to close the three schools was "in the best interests of all school pupils in the city".

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