pound;80m plan passes new milestone

7th April 2000 at 01:00
EDINBURGH'S pound;80 million plans for a privately-funded school investment programme, second only to Glasgow's in its scale, passed another milestone on Tuesday when the council's education committee approved sites for the new schools.

This will allow tenders to be prepared for four preferred bidders. Work is scheduled to begin next March on 10 new primaries, three new special schools, one new community centre and refurbishing five secondaries. The new schools will open in 2003-4.

The project, funded through the Government's public-private partnership (PPP) programme, is described as "a calculated means to an end" by Paul Williamson, Edinburgh Council's education convener. It balanced the best use of limited resources with "the best of education and learning".

The proposalshave run into flak from some parents and politicians since they involve a reduction of special schools from eight to four, of primary schools in north Edinburgh from six to four, and the closure of one primary in the Craigmillar area.

Edinburgh hopes to avoid the criticisms levelled at Glasgow's scheme, which has been accused of using "commercial confidentiality" to prevent full discussion of parts of the package which the unions have complained about.

Roy Jobson, Edinburgh's director of education, told his committee on Tuesday that two headteachers were members of the PPP board and another would be seconded full-time to act as a liaison officer between the bidders for the contract and the schools. The two city projects were "chalk and cheese," Mr Williamson said.

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