Following a number of articles in national newspapers claiming Midlothian Council was segregating pupils from St David's and Dalkeith high schools, I held a press conference and issued a detailed statement on Monday November 3, the purpose of which was to quash these inaccurate stories.
I was therefore dismayed to read your article (November 7), with its sensational headline, when I had issued a clear statement denying any policies to segregate pupils. I can only imagine the effect on staff morale when they have worked so hard in preparation for moving to the new campus.
I gave detailed reasoning as to why it was necessary initially to separate pupils in the dining area to help them settle into the new environments and emphasised that this would have been done regardless of whether the schools were denominational or non-denominational. None of this was reported.
With around 2,000 pupils arriving on the campus, it was decided that the dining area should be carefully controlled to ensure its smooth running.
Pupils from the two high schools enter the dining area from separate entrances. It was therefore practical that initially they sat at tables nearest their entrances. Now that pupils are familiar with proceedings and their surroundings, they are free to sit with colleague pupils from the two schools. To have allowed an "open house" approach on day one would have been folly and might have caused distress to some pupils.
The new schools campus has never been a "step towards unity". We have made it clear from the start that there were to be three separate schools, each with its own teaching areas and retaining its own identities and ethos but sharing sports and leisure facilities as well as assembly hall, library, dining and drama areas. We, as a small council, are proud of this flagship campus, which offers 2,000 pupils exceptional teaching and learning accommodation as well as sport and leisure facilities for members of the community.
These include an all-weather running track; an all-weather, floodlit footballhockey pitch; a competition-size swimming pool; and the first proper theatre facility in Midlothian in a 500-seater assembly hall as well as large sports hall, with retractable seating for 500 spectators.
Donald S MacKay
Director of education Midlothian Council