Very lengthy visit to South Morningside Primary School this afternoon ... found the time spent there really, really useful. The Headteacher, the Chair of the School Board, and the Chair of the PTA all gave willingly of their afternoon - for which I'm grateful - to make sure I had a complete picture of the issues that face the school.
The whole visit was definite proof that seeing things first-hand is always better than simply reading about them in yet another official report!
Going back to the School Board on 31st January, and will hopefully have made some progress with the issues being raised. In essence, the School Nursery is being required (more information here) to vacate it's current premises later this year, and this is compounded by the already existing pressures on the main school site, pressure which of itself has led to 2 (of the 3) Primary 1 classes already being housed in a separate annexe building. So, having to move the Nursery to a new location is not going to be easy.
That said, I think there are two parts to the problem - one is very short-term, the other longer-term.
In the short-term, we do need to find a solution to the Nursery location, and pretty quickly, as it's not that long now until the Summer break. I know the prospect of housing any such temporary Nursery building in the current main playground is not looked on with much favour locally (to say the least!) - and I am determined to avoid that option if at all possible. I do though have to face the possibility that no other solution arises ... unlikely, but it would be wrong to ignore it.
In the longer-term, there clearly is a lot of pressure on the current, main building - with the Nursery and two P1's already being housed externally - and a more permanent arrangement needs to be found to house, say, all of the early-years services ... thus freeing up badly-needed space in the main building.
I'm sure that, with a bit of goodwill and cooperation, the Local Authority, the School and the local Community can resolve these problems ... it won't be easy, but nothing ever really worth achieving is.
I am concerned that Councillor Burns thinks that siting the nursery even temporarily is a vaible option - once a Portacabin has been erected on site the council has no incentive to provide another site. he should know that parents at the school will strongly resist any attempt to deprive our children of their already inadequate playground space.
I do take your point, and indeed said in this entry that "I am determined to avoid that option if at all possible. I do though have to face the possibility that no other solution arises ... unlikely, but it would be wrong to ignore it."
I really hope that's clear - and that you'd accept it has to be kept open as a (remote) possibility if the only choice ends up being 'in the playground' or 'no Nursery'.
I don't think that's the choice that will ultimately face us, but it would be wrong of me to exclude it until a short-term solution is actualy found.
I have to agree with Councillor Burns that 'no nursery' should not be an option for the various reasons already provided in the correspondence and ultimately if in the remote possibility the only choice is the playground, I am afraid I would have to support that option.
However there seems to be other potentially viable solutions and I know the Braid centre is a preferred site or even Cluny centre. But in the event of these not being available, would housing the nursery in a portacabin on the grounds of Craighouse Campus be an option and might this also be a temporary resolution for the P1 classes in 2008 if required? I also know that Councillor Burns is aware of the critical timescales for the nursery, but I just wanted to reaffirm we are very worried that the investigations will all take too much time and that new premises will not be ready for start of school in September. Is there anyway that we can be reassured on this point, or indeed can the parents help to facilitate or move this along?
I really do appreciate the concerns over the short timescale left to resolve the Nursery situation - all I can say is that the Council is working hard to find a prompt solution and I will definitely keep the School, the Board and the PTA informed of progress.
I am going to the next Board meeting on the 31st January and will give a general update then.
P.S. Thanks for your thoughts on the grounds of Craighouse Campus - I'll ask for that option to also be checked out.
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