The City of Edinburgh Council today gave the go-ahead for the city's first dedicated Gaelic primary school in the former Bonnington Primary School in Leith.
The council accepted the educational arguments for a standalone Gaelic school In June 2011, following public consultation and had been looking to secure funding for the project. Bonnington Primary School will be refurbished with the help of £1.8m in funding from the Scottish Government (see funding).
City Education Leader, Councillor Marilyne MacLaren, said: "The Council’s decision to go ahead with a dedicated primary Gaelic school, has demonstrated our commitment to investing in young people and communities, during this restrictive economic situation. Assuming that consent is granted by the Scottish Government, we will be able to move on with quickly progressing work on site to be ready for the first pupils in 2013."
Gaelic Medium education (GME) is currently delivered at Tollcross primary school for 156 pupils in primary and a further 65 in nursery. However, the demand for places is such that Tollcross has now reached capacity.
MacLaren said: “We will make the transition to the new Gaelic school as smooth as possible and are we confident that Tollcross Primary will continue to thrive and be a very successful mainstream school within its expanded space once Gaelic pupils have moved.”
Minister for Gaelic Alasdair Allan said: "Edinburgh parents have clearly demonstrated their desire for a new Gaelic school in the city, with the existing facilities at Tollcross no longer suitable. This is an important day for the education of their children."
The new Gaelic school is due to open in August 2013. The Council estimates that, if demand continues, there could be 300 pupils in the primary by 2017-18.
The Scottish Government has offered £1.8m capital funding towards the costs of restoring the former primary Bonnington Primary school, with a further £100,000 of additional annual revenue funding also being provided. This allows the Council to realise further capital funding of £1.275m through prudential borrowing.
The Council will fund the remaining £0.455m of the total £3.53m of capital funding needed for the works at Bonnington and will also fund the additional ongoing revenue costs associated with running the new school.