No Change – Buckstone PS & Boroughmuir HS Catchments

There has been speculation recently regarding rising pupil rolls at Boroughmuir High School and how this may force Buckstone PS out of it, and into a new School or Firrhill High School’s catchment. This is because Boroughmuir’s capacity will soon be 1,560, but this is likely to be exceeded in 2023 or 2024 (see table above). Four points on this:

  1. Boroughmuir’s capacity issues should not be news, I blogged about it here in 2019 and touched on it in 2021 is part of my review of City Plan 2030.
  2. If the projections are correct a new school will be needed or catchment changes will have to be implemented. This does not automatically mean Buckstone PS will be involved in this (other primary schools contribute to Boroughmuir too), but any change will be subject to two consultations.
  3. Of course, I will support the needs of local people on the issue.
  4. I live in Buckstone, and my kids were well served my Buckstone PS and Boroughmuir HS – so I fully understand the concerns people have about the future of these great schools.

I have discussed the issue with the Council’s “Head of Strategic Asset Planning”, and he gave me this reply:

The latest publication which has mentioned the issue of potential future catchment change for Boroughmuir is the Education Appraisal associated with City Plan 2030.  

I have copied the relevant text (from page 16 of the document) below (note the links at the end to the relevant ECF reports):

Boroughmuir High School Growth from the existing catchment population is the main contributor to the accommodation pressures experienced at Boroughmuir High School . An extension to increase the capacity of Boroughmuir High School to 1,560 pupils is currently under construction. Beyond this, the school cannot be extended further on its existing site. To accommodate all pupils forecast from population growth and pupil generation from new development it will be necessary to engage with the school community to consider the options available, including catchment change. The requirement to consider a catchment change to address long-term accommodation pressure was reported to the Education, Children and Families Committee in December 2018 and March 2020.”

I think the City Plan 2030 would be the most likely source of any recent discussion on this issue because the period of representations was from 7 November to 20 December 2021.  The process for the City Plan moving forward can be found at this link.

At the moment we have no plans to take forward any engagement on these issues. However, we would engage with all the relevant secondary and primary school communities about potential options before any final proposals were suggested for a statutory consultation.

I hope this is helpful but please let me know if any further information is required.

So basically, there has been no change but the problem is not going away. My understanding, following my discussion with the Head of Strategic Asset Planning, is that the plan for a new school in south Edinburgh was contingent on Redford Barracks being available for housing over the next 5-10 years, but it now looks like any new homes (and pupils) from that site are 10-15 years away. Adjusting catchments remains a possibility, but this will involve first moving pupils to the north out of Firrhill HS and/or Boroughmuir High School (Gracemount HS is not an option). I touch on the feasibility of this here.

Conclusion
It looks like the speculation was not well informed, but the problem still needs to be fixed. I expect no real action on the issue until after the election in May. At that point we will need a Council that takes the issue seriously, and the schools involved will need Councillors that stand up for local people.

NOTE: In 2012 I said the school site was too small in a Scotsman article – see here.

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