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Axe poised over city primary schools

Scotland's two largest cities have announced plans to close significant numbers of primary schools because of falling pupil numbers.

Edinburgh City Council's executive committee this week agreed to hold consultations on proposals to close up to a quarter of the capital's primary schools.

Meanwhile, Glasgow City Council's education committee is to be asked to pass plans next week for a pound;128 million programme that would see the closure of 28 primaries and the construction of 16 new schools, all with pre-five facilities.

The Glasgow proposals would be the fourth phase of a strategy that will have seen the city's primary school estate shrink from 203 schools four years ago to 178 by December.

Overcapacity, under-occupancy, falling rolls and high repair bills are driving the strategy. Thirty years ago, Glasgow had 110,000 pupils in 220 primaries; four years ago it had 40,000 pupils in 203 schools.

In all, the council is seeking to build 11 new schools, involving the mergers of two, three or four existing schools; two multiplex campuses - one taking in pre-five, denominational, non-denominational and SEN, the other pre-five, denominational and non-denominational; two merged schools, with parents given the option of refurbishing and extending an existing school or opting for a new-build; and one straight replacement of a school with a new-build, but bringing together pre-five facilities.

Ewan Aitken, Edinburgh's executive member for children and families, called on Scottish Executive ministers to offer councils financial incentives to merge under-occupied schools.

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