Plans for a new, additional secondary school in Wallyford were today approved at a meeting of East Lothian Council.

At the full meeting of East Lothian Council, Councillors voted to approve the new, additional school following a report on the statutory public consultation, which was carried out in May and June of this year.

the proposal for a new additional school is the best solution to ensuring that we continue to provide a quality education experience for our young people in the Musselburgh area as our community grows.

Shamin Akhtar, Cabinet spokesperson for Education and Children’s Services

The new school will be built in Wallyford, and will take pupils from the Pinkie St Peter’s Primary School and Wallyford Primary School catchment areas. The report on Musselburgh’s Local Development Plan in 2014 identified the need to investigate increased education capacity because of new housing developments in the area.

A pre-consultation exercise was undertaken by the Council’s Education department in 2015 on three education options for the delivery of additional secondary education capacity, and in April 2016 approval was given by East Lothian Council to consult on the proposal to establish a new, additional secondary school in Wallyford in 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter.

A report on the public consultation revealed that of the 423 questionnaire responses received, a clear majority supported the proposal for a new, additional secondary school, with 60.5% of respondents supporting the proposal. 35.2% respondents opposed the proposal, while 4.3% expressed no opinion.

Education Scotland reported that the proposal to establish a new, additional secondary school had the potential to bring about educational benefits, as it would address the capacity issues on Musselburgh Grammar. It also reported that an additional school would offer the potential for joint planning and greater breadth of provision in the curriculum, and wider activities which will benefit all young people in the Musselburgh learning community.

Education Scotland noted that East Lothian Council will need to ensure it continues to engage with stakeholders to investigate further ways in which the schools can work together for a united community; ensure that transition arrangements for pupils are in place in good time; develop and share its plans for ensuring that staff are in place to deliver a broad curriculum for hits for the first cohort of learners; ensure that stakeholders are provided with greater detail, once this is possible, on the financial costs and implications of this proposal; and continue to work with stakeholders to establish and develop safe routes to the new school.

Shamin Akhtar, Cabinet spokesperson for Education and Children’s Services, said:

"I want to thank everybody who participated in the consultation process, which has been an enormous amount of work for many people. The feedback from Education Scotland clearly shows that we have fully met the legislative requirements for this process. The result is a clear majority in favour of the proposal and we have to listen to that result. The proposal for a new additional school is the best solution to ensuring that we continue to provide a quality education experience for our young people in the Musselburgh area as our community grows. If we don’t agree an education solution then Musselburgh Grammar will become overcrowded.

I know that there are some members of the community that have concerns that education at Musselburgh Grammar will be affected in relation to the new school, and with regards to the fabric of the building and issues such as IT investment. We can reassure pupils and parents that this is not the case, as Musselburgh Grammar will continue to be maintained under the PPP scheme as well as receiving the continued support from East Lothian Council. The school has benefited hugely from the Council’s investment in the Construction & Technology Centre of £100,000 as well as excess of £170,000 towards its IT infrastructure last year. Over the last year £417,000 has been spent on Musselburgh Grammar School on planned maintenance"

Fiona Robertson, the Council’s Head of Education, said:

"The Council recognises that robust transition arrangements require to be in place, and it is committed to ensuring that both secondary schools will work closely together to provide the best possible learning experience for all young people in the Musselburgh cluster area. For example, pupils attending Musselburgh Grammar who are living in the Pinkie St Peter’s and Wallyford catchment areas and who are going into S4, S5 and S6 at the effective date will remain at Musselburgh Grammar for the rest of their education, while younger siblings of those pupils will have the option to attend Musselburgh Grammar if they so wish. Ensuring that everyone transitions to these new arrangements will be the work of the whole community. The development of school clusters is a priority of the Scottish Government to deliver excellence and equity in education for all our young people."

Published: Tuesday, 20th December 2016