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Future of Schools to be Discussed

The local authority has announced that they will hold two public events this month to talk about the future of Penicuik’s secondary schools.

It was announced late last year that plans would be readied to conduct a public consultation into the future of Penicuik’s two secondary schools after figures showed that both buildings would fail to reach optimum capacity again, even with planned housing in the area.

Now, nine months on, Midlothian Council has said they will ask the public to attend two events, the first on Wednesday September 14 in St Margaret’s Community Rooms, Loanhead, and the second on Tuesday September 20 in Penicuik Town Hall. Both events are scheduled at 7pm and will last approximately one and half hours.

A spokesperson for the council said:

Lots of houses are being built and more are planned for the area. We need to invest in some of our Schools to create learning spaces ready for 21st century education. We also need to address current and future capacity in our schools.

Come along and find out more at our public meetings

It is believed that the events will focus primarily on the secondary school provision for the A701 corridor, which includes Penicuik and district, Roslin, Bilston and Loanhead. This area is currently served by two high schools, Penicuik and Beeslack, both located within the boundary of the town.

Under new plans to be discussed, Midlothian Council are set to propose a new secondary school to serve Loanhead, Roslin and Bilston, perhaps located within the Easter Bush science triangle, and a new purpose built facility to serve just Penicuik. Other options being considered include a so called ‘super school’ for the entire corridor with a capacity of 1500 minimum and like for like replacements of the original high schools. They could also propose to move the entirety of Loanhead’s catchment away from over capacity Lasswade High to either Penicuik or Beeslack.

The move to discuss the future of the education provision comes after a report was published last December showing that Penicuik High School was operating at only 61% capacity, whilst its younger in the north of the town, Beeslack CHS, faired slightly better at 81%. To operate best, guidance states that the school must be served by a minimum of 6000 homes. Neither high school is forecast to reach these levels, even with plans to construct new homes in the area, posing a dilemma for the council. The schools can either continue to operate below optimum capacity or they will need to construct new buildings and/or alter catchment areas to accommodate for the falling rolls.

Feasibility studies were commissioned back in 2014 to consider all options. Should two new secondary schools be required, funding through the Scottish Government’s ‘Schools for the Future’ programme would be sought as soon as possible, though funding would have to come in two separate rounds, meaning one building may not be operational until 2025.

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