Primary school expansion gains backing

Woodburn Primary School, The Campus, Dalkeith
Woodburn Primary School, The Campus, Dalkeith

A £2.2 million expansion of a primary school in Dalkeith has been given the go ahead, as the council announces intake restrictions on its schools.

Midlothian Council last week approved the plans to create a new building with three new classrooms at Woodburn Primary School. The new unit is expected to be built on the site currently used as a multi-use game area, which will need to be relocated.

A report to councillors said the rapid housing growth in the county meant intake limits were required as demand for places in certain schools outstripped those available.

It said that at the start of the next school year in August it estimated 10 primary schools would have more children ready to start P1 in their catchment area than their intake capacity allowed.

The report said: “The council’s approach is to provide a place for every pupil at one of their catchment schools and to grant placing request for siblings whenever possible.

“Where catchment schools are over-subscribed the process reserves places at neighbouring schools to ensure every pupils is afforded the opportunity to attend a local school. Maintaining this commitment is becoming increasingly challenging with the growth in pupil numbers.”

The report revealed that Woodburn Primary is expected to have around 102 P1 pupils taking its school roll to 583 in August and so requires additional classes and a second activity hall.

A new primary school planned for neighbouring Easthouses is still three years away. Councillors were asked to approve the expansion of Woodburn to allow the plans to be submitted as quickly as possible. A review of the situation had concluded that a new unit with three classrooms and an activity hall located close to the school building was the best option.

The report said: “Time is very short and at a minimum the school requires the additional teaching spaces to be available for the start of the 2020/21 school year.”

Councillor Jim Muirhead (Lab) told fellow councillors that it was important the extension was approved as schools prepared to deal with the growing population. He said:“We absolutely need to press ahead with measures like the extension to Woodburn Primary School.

“It is an unfortunate by-product of (rapid growth) that we do have to place intake levels on our schools, there is nothing else we can do.”

The council approved the expansion unanimously.