Bonnyrigg school’s poor inspection report adds to parents’ concerns

A poor inspection report from Education Scotland and the Care Inspectorate has added to parents’ concerns at a Bonnyrigg school.

Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 6:32 am
Pic - Greg Macvean - 12/03/2020. 
Burnbrae Primary School in Bonnyrigg.
Pic - Greg Macvean - 12/03/2020. Burnbrae Primary School in Bonnyrigg.

In November 2019, a team of inspectors visited Burnbrae Primary School and Nursery Class. Their report, published last week, marked the school as “weak” in ‘learning, teaching and assessment’ and ‘raising attainment and achievement’.

It also highlighted the need to “improve strategic leadership of quality improvement across the school” and “improve consistency in the quality of learning and teaching”.

However, inspectors did note the “caring” staff, who showed a “welcoming approach to fostering positive relationships with families and partners”.

This report has further alarmed parents, who have been concerned with the growing school roll, which has more than doubled since it first opened in 2012, and the under construction new Burnbrae Early building, located on a nearby joint campus with St Mary’s RC Primary.

One concerned parent, who asked not to be named, told the Advertiser: “Obviously this is a poor report. We feel there is a lack of support from the council with regards to the senior leadership team at the school and that additional resource for the school has not been sufficiently allocated.

“Lots of families are moving to the area and so the pupil role is growing and adding additional pressures on the school.

“It was never built big enough in the first place. They have had to place two portable cabins for the playground in the last year-and-a-half.

“The council will say it has supported the school with the cabins. But the consequence of that is we have lost a lot of playground space and the play ground is in a very poor state.

“And now we have this report, which has caused a huge amount of concern with parents.

“There is a frustration in the community at the lack of foresight. Why was it built too small in the first place?”

The parent praised the school’s teaching staff and highlighted their workload.

She said: “I feel sympathy for the teaching staff at the school as all the pressures have come from the lack of money and a range of staffing issues-such as teachers on maternity leave or sick leave - which means they are consistently fire fighting.

“The teachers are doing their day job, trying to work with a temporary headteacher, trying to deal with this report and dealing with opening a new early years campus.

“The council needs to put as much resources into the school as possible.

“I understand the budget pressures that local authorities are under. However, we now see that schools that are not supported do not succeed.

“There are too many families moving into Burnbrae to not be allocating additional resources to our school, especially as we will now be split over two campuses.”

Highlighting the new Early Years Campus, the inspection report adds that “strategic leadership is important to ensure continued improvement and success as children, staff and parents adapt to new surroundings and make effective use of new facilities”.

The Burnbrae parent fears the primary school will find it difficult to attract staff to take it forward.

She said: “Another worry is the big move with the new building coming.

“We have a school with around 480 pupils. So the challenge we have as a school right now is we have a school that is too small for the demand.

“I believe the school has no permanent headteacher at the moment.

“So with this report, how hard will it be to get a new permanent headteacher to apply for a vacancy?

“The teachers are working exceptionally hard, but the council has not supported the school at all with the upcoming move to the new early years campus.”

Burnbrae Primary Parent Council chairwoman Jen Gad vowed to work with the council: “We have been shocked and disappointed by the results of the recent inspection of the school and nursery.

“We share the concerns of the wider parent forum and have met with members of the Education department of Midlothian Council and our local councillors to understand how we move forward, build trust and improve learning, teaching and attainment.

“We will work together with the school and the council to ensure the best possible outcome for our children.”

A Midlothian Council spokesman said: “We have discussed parents’ concerns with members of the parent council at Burnbrae Primary School and we are working with them and staff to put robust improvement measures in place, which will be monitored carefully.

“We are confident and determined that, with parents help and support, and building on the key strengths in the letter from Education Scotland we will improve the areas for development reported.

“Staff, pupils and parents will be fully involved in appointing a new headteacher, marking a new beginning at the school.

“Indeed, they are currently working on a new recruitment video showcasing the many positives of the school including our new, state-of-the-art Burnbrae Early spaces, due to open after Easter.”