At a meeting of East Lothian Council this week it was agreed to go ahead with plans to build a new primary school in Wallyford.

The new school will replace the existing school building. Councillors also agreed to vary the school catchment area.

I would like to thank the Wallyford community for engaging so fully with this process. It was very important to us to get this right as the existing school is a key feature of Wallyford – and the new school will be perhaps the biggest primary in East Lothian.

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

The need for a new primary school in Wallyford, due to the building of new homes in the area and a resulting increase in population, has been recognised for some time. In April this year, East Lothian Council secured funding from the Scottish Futures Trust towards the replacement of the school. In May and June this year, the council carried out a statutory consultation on proposals to relocate the school and make adjustments to the catchment area. Responses to that consultation have now been considered and the outcome report put before full council.

Parents were overwhelmingly supportive of the proposal to relocate Wallyford Primary School to a new site and were positive about the provision of high-quality learning environments and community facilities which will form part of the new school building. It was noted that the community would also have access to sports facilities at the new school as well as the school library.

Education Scotland also considered the proposals and recognised several benefits including:

  • Improved facilities with more flexible learning spaces
  • A more modern learning environment
  • Improved recreation and dining areas
  • New possibilities for drama and the arts

They also stated that the council should work with stakeholders to address some concerns raised by consultees with regard to traffic management and safer routes to school. It was agreed these concerns be addressed by direct consultation with pupils and staff.

The Education Scotland report stated: “Almost all stakeholders, including parents, children and staff who met with HM Inspectors, reported that they had been kept well-informed and consulted about the proposal. Parents and children who met HM Inspectors expressed their appreciation for the educational service that Wallyford Primary School has provided over the years. Staff and other stakeholders are keen to keep the community feel of Wallyford Primary School as the school grows in size. The community is pleased that the new school will be fully accessible and more inclusive.”

The proposals also include changes to the school catchment area, namely that it be expanded to include houses in the vicinity of Dolphingstone Farm, currently in the catchment area of Sanderson’s Wynd Primary School, Tranent. Some respondents to the consultation expressed concern about the possible impact on relationships formed by those in the area of change. It was agreed that, to address this, children currently attending Sanderson’s Wynd Primary, or Ross High School in Tranent, could continue to do so after the catchment area changes are put in place in August 2017. This also applies to siblings of pupils already attending Tranent schools. They will have the option of attending the same schools as their older siblings, rather than attending the new Wallyford Primary or Musselburgh Grammar School.

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

“I am delighted that the report has been agreed by Council today and I thank everyone for their hard work in pulling the proposals together and then carrying out the extensive consultation process including public meetings. There are minimum requirements we need to meet when carrying out consultations and, in this case, we went well above what was required to ensure as many people and groups as possible were able to contribute. I would like to thank the Wallyford community for engaging so fully with this process. It was very important to us to get this right as the existing school is a key feature of Wallyford – and the new school will be perhaps the biggest primary in East Lothian. I feel very strongly that the new school will provide the best learning environment possible for local children and will also be a great facility for the community.”

Work will now take place to appoint contractors for the design and build of the new school, which is due to open in the autumn term of 2018.

Published: Friday, 20th October 2017