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Maureen Child Update 13 December 2013

Dear All

The Council’s online Book of Condolence for the death of Nelson Mandela is live on the Council’s website – you may access it either from the website home page or by going direct to the Book of Condolence. There is also a Book of Condolence set up in the City Chambers available at for people to pay their tributes. Open now until this evening, 7pm Friday 13 December.

Yesterday the Council approved a revised set of polling districts and polling places for Portobello/Craigmillar (Ward 17). The changes are fully described in the Council report at Item 8.3, with maps showing the arrangements available at http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/downloads/download/2927/polling_place_and_district_boundaries_review_2013-maps

Currently out for consultation is the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill includes, among other measures, increased powers for community groups. fb.me/2AUP2JC9a

And don’t forget to respond to the Council’s budget consultation – using the links below. Only 7 days left to do so.

An action plan to improve outcomes for pupils and boost numbers at Castlebrae Community High School has been approved by the City of Edinburgh Council. A progress report for the school was discussed at the Education, Children and Families Committee on Tuesday 10 December. The report highlighted the positive developments made at the Craigmillar school in the past nine months and made a number of recommendations to take the school forward. The report was finalised after a Castlebrae Working Group was set up consisting of senior education officers, community representatives, teachers, councillors and a panel of education experts from across Scotland.

Their key recommendations include:

  • the creation of a Castlebrae Learning Community to strengthen links between the high school and cluster primary schools
  • developing an East of Edinburgh hub with the aim of delivering a city wide Centre of Excellence for Science when the new school opens in 2020
  • appointing a permanent head teacher

Head teacher Derek Curran said: “We want the school to be a centre of excellence in its community and first choice for parents and carers when they start choosing a secondary school for their children. We are developing our ambitions to help young people overcome some of the challenges they face in life and help them gain the highest levels of achievement and success. It’s important we provide quality learning experiences in a supportive and caring environment and make every student’s experience unique – one which is tailored to individual student’s needs so they can achieve their full potential. There are rich resources available in Craigmillar and we will work in partnership with parents and the wider community to draw on these to ensure the education we deliver is challenging, stimulating and fully prepares young people for life and work.”

Keir Bloomer, former Chief Executive of Clackmannanshire Council and author of the report Vision for School Reform, was one of the panel of experts who advised the working group. He said: “I was delighted to be asked to be on the panel of ‘experts’ to offer opinions on how to guarantee the future of the school. We reached very similar conclusions that urgent and far-reaching action is needed if Castlebrae is to be able to offer a good quality of education. There is a need for much greater continuity from primary to secondary and we felt that the group of schools should be drawn much closer together, possibly under new leadership arrangements. The physical condition of the premises also needs to be improved. Creating a positive future for Castlebrae will be an uphill struggle but it can be done and the ‘experts’ wish those involved every success.”

The Capital Asset Management Programme Priorities 2014-2019 report on the same agenda highlights a number of buildings that need work carried out over the next five years following the recent completion of condition surveys. The surveys identified that 92% of schools were in a satisfactory or good condition which is better than the Scottish average of 81% and compared favourably to other local authorities such as Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee. However, 15 buildings were found to be in a poor condition and a further seven buildings were identified as needing significant levels of investment to keep them in a satisfactory condition. The Committee will now consider a priority programme of investment including major works to these buildings, alongside substantial Health and Safety and wind and watertight improvements to establishments across the estate. Major works include roofing, replacement windows (Brunstane Primary and Craigmillar Early Years Centres) improved lighting, ventilation and heating and doors (Jack Kane Community Centre), doors, windows and roof lights (Greendykes Early Years Centre) external fabric upgrade (Castlebrae Community High School). Those establishments scheduled for replacement – i.e. wave 3 schools, Castlebrae High School and Greendykes Young People’s centre have ongoing maintenance continuing as necessary. Both Portobello High School and St John’s RC Primary School have monies allocated in the Council’s Capital Programme for major investment but neither school replacement plan can proceed any further until the Scottish Parliament have made their decision on the Portobello Park Private Bill. The slot for this being debated will now be some time in the first half of January.

Craigmillar is set to be given a boost as the City of Edinburgh Council is set to receive £1.9m of regeneration funding from the Scottish Government to transform Castlebrae Business Centre, currently occupied by the business incubator hub, Cre8te Opportunities Limited, whose Board I currently Chair. The Centre in Peffer Place was constructed in 1936 as the Niddrie Marischal Secondary School, later becoming an annexe of Craigmillar High School. An Art-Deco style building, it is category B listed and owned by the Council. The funding will help to transform the premises into quality office space for 40 units. It is currently under 50% occupied due to the poor condition of the building. The Council and Cre8te have also applied to Historic Scotland for a repair grant of £500,000 to assist with the work being proposed. Neil Scott, Chief Executive of Cre8te, said: “We are obviously delighted that, working closely with the Council, we have managed to obtain the funding to preserve this iconic building for the Craigmillar community which would otherwise have been lost. The refurbished building will provide much needed business space to nurture new businesses assisted by our most successful and award winning Incubator project. This is a massive boost for the regeneration of this area.”

Have a good weekend!

Best wishes

Maureen