New high schools welcomed

The replacement Newbattle High is the latest school currently being built in Midlothian.
The replacement Newbattle High is the latest school currently being built in Midlothian.

Midlothian Council hopes to build two new high schools as part of ambitious plans to cope with being the fastest growing local authority area in Scotland.

At last week’s full council meeting, the Learning Estate Strategy: 2017-2047 revealed plans for new high schools in Gorebridge by 2024 and Shawfair by 2026, as well as a 400- pupil extension at Dalkeith High School to cater for the county’s growing population.

This news has been welcomed in Gorebridge, where pupils have had to be bussed to Newbattle High from, ever since the fast-growing town’s Greenhall High School was closed 25 years ago.

Former Greenhall High School headteacher Archie Pacey (86) said: “It’s quite disgraceful that we don’t have a high school here. And I don’t think the council has been very straight with the people of Gorebridge about this.

“To be perfectly honest I don’t believe it should ever have been closed, and now with all the developments here since, we have even more need for a new high school, so this news is welcomed.

“They need to speak to the people of Gorebridge as soon as possible to see what they want instead of dictating to them. It’s all quite exciting though, I can see myself getting involved.”

The 17 recommendations approved for up to 2023 include a three-stream replacement Danderhall Primary School for August 2020, a new two-stream primary in Easthouses on the old Newbattle High School site by August 2019, and a new two-stream primary school in Dalkeith, with capacity to extend to three-streams, by August 2019 .

Newtongrange Primary will become two-stream by August 2021, and Burnbrae three -stream by August 2019.

The plans also include a new primary school on the Hopefield Farm HS12 site in Bonnyrigg by 2022, a three stream replacement Lasswade Primary School on a new site for 2023 and a new primary school at Auchendinny to replace Glencorse Primary School by 2023.

Extensions are also planned for Penicuik High, Rosewell Primary, Sacred Heart Primary, Cuiken Primary, Bilston Primary and Strathesk Primary. And the council is seeking a potential site for a new secondary school along the A701.

Councillors last week agreed on the short term strategy and asked officers to do further work on the financial implications so that these can be considered as part of the council’s Capital Strategy and General Service Capital Plan report in November.

Officers will continue to work on the medium term actions which are required from 2023 and will bring a further report back to Council in the autumn of 2018.

The cabinet member for education, Councillor Jim Muirhead (Lab) said: “Midlothian has set out it’s ambition to deliver a world class education for our children and young people.

“The Learning Estate Strategy gives the council clear direction in the short, medium and long term.”

Speaking at last week’s full council meeting he also welcomed the news that Gorerbidge, which is part of his ward, will get a new high school, “and so will the people in that area,” he said.