Council (Education) Executive meeting this morning ... full agenda can be found here. Two significant Children and Families issues were up for discussion - both having deputations from members of the public.
First up was the South Morningside PTA - I've written on this topic recently here - and they put a very professional case over. There was no actual 'report' on this issue but the draft minute of the meeting has the decision reading thus:
1) To note that in the short-term, due to circumstances beyond the direct control of the local authority, the South Morningside Primary School Nursery required to be relocated and that significant efforts were ongoing to secure a new site for the nursery classes involved.
2) That the Director of Children and Families enter into discussions with the Church of Scotland General Trustees to explore options surrounding the site at Morningside Braid Church and report on the outcome to the meeting of the Executive on 27 March 2007; the report to also include information on the outcome of investigations detailed at 1) above.
3) To instruct the Director of Children and Families to report on the long-term options regarding the accommodation pressures facing South Morningside Primary School and nursery taking into account all the potential solutions which had been raised locally including potential NHS Lothian owned sites.
4) To agree that it was essential that the School Board and local community remained involved and were kept fully informed of progress in both these work streams.
So, definite progress and the School/Board/PTA should be commended for bringing the whole issue to the fore - still obviously a very immediate solution required, in the next few months, for the location of the Nursery but I'm confident an acceptable solution will be found.
Second up were parents from Tynecastle Nursery School - two reports refer to this debate; here and here. In essence, they deal with a fairly complex set of changes around the Gorgie/Dalry area that affect the Hearts ground at Tynecaslte, the Tynecastle Nursery and the Gorgie-Dalry Community Association.
I'm under no doubt that the long-term benefits for the area are pretty substantial, but there is significant concern (completely understandably) about the 'temporary' (for approximately 3-years) move of the Nursery before it's permanently re-housed in a new integrated Children's Centre.
There does, in particular, seem to be the confusion abounding that the land is now all sold before the public consultation on the Nursery move has finished. This is simply NOT true.
No sale goes ahead until after the consultation. Have a look at recommendation 5.4 of the Nursery report and you'll see that any sale is "subject to the satisfactory conclusion of the consultation" and the Properties report repeats this at recommendation 5.1(i) were it states again that any sale is "subject to further consultation ... as set out in the accompanying report ..."
The 'draft minute' of the meeting further repeats that no sale will take place until the consultation is concluded ... I quote (item 3 referred to is the Nursery report) ...
"The Director of City Development confirmed that no sale would take place until the consultations arising from the decision on item 3 above were concluded."
I really do hope that clarifies the situation.
I have actually got a lot of sympathy with those who are worried about these moves - I've got personal experience of using the Tynecastle Nursery and was extremely happy with the service provided to my family - and will try and do all I can over the next few weeks to reassure those who are concerned. I really do think there are very substantial, long-term benefits for Gorgie/Darly in these proposals - but fully accept they must not affect the education of children over the forthcoming 3-year period (before the permanent Nursery location is secured and opened).
The consultation now runs through until 1st March 2007, with an open Public meeting for parents on the 20th February, which I'm certain is going to be well attended!