A letter sent home with children at Castlebrae High School today as follows, giving no assurance that the school will be open for the next academic year. I hope that the intention to create a new school goes ahead, but this is nonetheless a sad day:
“Dear Parent or Guardian
Castlebrae Community High School
You may be aware of recent speculation about the future of Castlebrae Community High School. I realise this is very unsettling for everyone connected with the school and I am writing to you directly to explain what is actually happening just now.
We are very concerned about the very low number of pupils attending Castlebrae Community High School. The roll has been falling for a number of years and it is clear that most parents living in the catchment area now choose to send their children to other schools. This year we have seen our lowest S1 intake ever at the school with only 21 pupils starting in August and a school roll of just 200.
It is now nearing a position at Castlebrae where the school cannot keep operating in the same way as it will not be able to offer pupils a full curriculum which can meet their needs.
Every young person in Edinburgh should have the chance to do as well as they can at school. This means that they need to be given the right opportunities; ones that will suit them as individuals and will help them reach their potential. It is the Council’s duty to make sure that every child gets the education and support that they need to do this.
The situation at Castlebrae has now reached a critical point and I believe the current position is unsustainable. There is significant spare capacity in other schools in the local area which could accommodate Castlebrae’s pupils and I intend to take a report to the Education, Children and Families Committee on 9 October requesting permission to consult on the possible closure of Castlebrae Community High School.
However I must assure you that the school will remain open for the whole of the 2012/13 school year. No decision has been taken to close the school, the proposals would be subject to full public consultation and no closure could take place until summer 2013 at the earliest.
There is no doubt that the Craigmillar area will need a new high school in the longer term. As the regeneration continues, more new housing will bring more new pupils to the area which will mean that secondary school capacity in the area (were Castlebrae to close) would be insufficient to cope with demand. We still need to fully understand what the timing for this would be as it will be very dependent on when new housing development happens; at present it would appear to be around 2020 when this need would arise.
A new school will be central to the regeneration of the Craigmillar area and would be built to reflect up to date approaches to education and seek to combine technology with top class facilities to offer superb and creative spaces for learning, teaching and community use.
Crucially, we would want the new school to be one to which local parents will want to send their children. The local community will be very important to the success of a new school and we will ensure there are real opportunities for everyone to have a say in how plans take shape and to build a shared ‘vision’ for it.
I do appreciate that there can be no good time to hear this sort of news but I do believe that is important for you to be told directly what is being considered rather than having to rely on rumour and conjecture. I am sure that you will understand the importance of providing children with the best possible education and why we need to consider better options for the short to medium term.
I will take a report to the Education, Children and Families Committee on 9 October outlining all of the issues in a lot more detail. My report will be available from
3 October on the Council website. Copies will also be available from that date in the school or you can phone 0131 529 4214 to request a copy. I will write to you after the committee meeting to confirm their decision and, if the committee agrees, I would aim to consult on our proposals between late October and Christmas during which period you would receive more detailed information.
Following the completion of the consultation period, I would then take a further report and final recommendations to a Council meeting in March 2013 which means the earliest any closure would go ahead would be at the end of the school year in July 2013.
Director of Children and Families”