Half Measures Won't Do for Eastern Primary School Move

Since the papers for tonight's Education committee were released last Monday, I have been contacted by a stream of constituents who are very concerned about the half measures in the report about the Proposed Relocation of Eastern Primary School to the Old Grove buildings. Their concerns are not only about road safety in the vicinity of the Grove Academy campus but also about the enduring educational benefits of the proposed move.

Parents and community objectors are disappointed that many of the concerns they expressed, during the public consultation, about pupil safety have been ignored in the Report to the Education Committee tonight. There were already strong concerns expressed at the meetings of the Grove Academy Parent Council well before the Eastern Primary School proposal arose in June. Two of the Grove Parent Council members produced an Audit of Traffic and Pedestrian Safety in the vicinity of Grove Academy. Both of these members are very well informed with one working as a Senior Police Officer in the Traffic Division of Tayside Police and the other working in the Transport Division of Perth & Kinross Council. Recommendations in their report about modifications to the narrow section of Seafield Road between its junction with Davidson Street and the service entrance of Grove were missing from the final report about the Eastern move. Of course this same area would be shared by many parents dropping off and collecting children from Eastern Primary School, its after School Club and its Nursery.

The education benefits of the move of Eastern Primary School are largely based on the superior quantity of indoor classroom space in the old Grove building such as the provision of a dedicated Art Room and a Computer Suite. But the benefits to the Eastern Primary pupils would be short lived, if the school expands. The option mentioned in the report, of moving from two form to three form entry could only be accommodated by using these specialist rooms as mainstream classrooms. The Director of Education writes in his report there are no plans for introducing three form entry at the relocated Eastern Primary School. But the Education Convener let the cat out of the bag on Friday. Commenting on the pressure on primary school places in the The Ferry arising from proposed new housing developments north of the Arbroath Road, Councillor Fordyce said:

"Of course the schools will be able to cope. If the council agrees on Monday night and Eastern Primary goes into the old Grove, there will be more room."
(quoted in the Courier on Friday 19 November)

Since the roll of Eastern Primary School has not been under pressure in the last few years, it would need a change of its catchment area with Forthill and Barnhill Primary Schools to draw in more pupils zoned to Eastern. But this was brushed aside by the Education Convener who

“... rejected the suggestion school catchment areas may need to be adjusted to accommodate more children.”
(quoted in the Courier on Friday 19 November)

If Councillor Fordyce looks at the map of the catchment large scale private housing developments, that will generate growth in pupil numbers, are north of the Arbroath Road and the schools currently zoned for these areas are Forthill and Barnhill Primary Schools and not Eastern Primary School.

If the Education Convener wants to avoid the conclusion that SNP Councillors in the city are prepared to dole out half measures for the Ferry Schools, she will need to think again about how this project will be progressed.