This week and next week will be busy for me and the other local elected reps with meeting for both Fort and Royston about the plans by Edinburgh's SNP/LibDem council to close these schools. In a comment below, someone has made a point contrasting the situation in Edinburgh and Glasgow. It's a reasonable question - but there is quite a significant difference between the two cities (in this way as in so many others!). In Glasgow, pupil numbers and the population is predicted to go down - but in Edinburgh, the Council's own predictions are that both will go up over the next 10 years - and that's city wide, without considering the position in detail in particular areas, like North Edinburgh where all the predictions are for a population increase.
Here's a statement I made today which makes this point at more length:
CITY WIDE NUMBERS NO BASIS FOR DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES
Edinburgh North & Leith Labour MP, Mark Lazarowicz, has urged the City
Council to look again at the calculations the City Council has used as a
basis for proposing school closures as part of its current programme. Mr
Lazarowicz, whose Edinburgh North & Leith constituency is threatened with
two school closures – at Royston and at Fort – has said that it has been
confirmed this week that the population projections being used by the
Council are city-wide, and do not cater for the possibility of the rates
of population change varying in different parts of the city.
Over the next two weeks, there will be a total of four meetings in Mark’s
constituency where the Council is explaining its plans to the local
parents and the local community. Mark raised his concerns at a meeting
about Fort Primary School earlier this week (Tuesday) where the Council
officials confirmed that their projections for future population growth
were city-wide figures, rather than ones for the areas in which school
closures were planned.
Mark Lazarowicz said: “The Council have said in the documents backing
their plans that they expect pupil numbers in primary schools to rise over
the next ten years as a result of an increase in Edinburgh’s population.
They also accept that the changes in population will be likely to be
different throughout the city.
However, they do not seem to have worked out even rough figures for what
the changes in population in different parts of the city will be. They
certainly do not seem to have any projections for population changes in
the areas affected”.
“This is a particularly important issue for the schools in my constituency
at Royston and Fort, as they both serve the north and the waterfront areas
of the city. Although a lot of the building and redevelopment work in this
area has slowed down at the moment, it is likely to start up again in the
next few years, and North Edinburgh is likely to be one of the big areas
of population growth in Edinburgh in the future. Using city wide pupil and
population projections as a way of planning for the numbers likely to be
going to school in this area is ridiculous”.
He continued: “It also seemed clear to me at the meeting this week that
the Council was making some very bland assumptions about the impact of
future trends on population as well. I was told that the figures for
population and pupil growth might be on the high side because of the
current economic recession – and yet there no information or arguments
were given to show why this might lead to pupil and population numbers
being less than predicted. In fact, there has been some evidence that the
recession has led to more pupils being sent to state schools instead of
fee-paying schools. And, on the other hand, there now seems to be plenty
of evidence that the recession is ending!
“The whole basis for the calculations that the Council is using seems to
me to be very questionable. Instead of city wide calculations about pupil
numbers which don’t apply to different communities, and questionable
assumptions about the impacts of economic trends on the size of the
population, the Council needs to look again at the figures it is using and
look at the impact on real schools and real communities.”