Teaching qualifications

Lothian school with just 18 children could close

St Margaret's RC Primary School, Loanhead may close

St Margaret’s RC Primary School, Loanhead may close

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St Margaret’s in Loanhead is on the decline and a very small number of children are expected to attend from August 2021, a review of denominational schools has found.

Midlothian Council said it will conduct a public consultation on its proposal to close the school and expand the recruiting areas of neighboring RC elementary schools, St Mary’s in Bonnyrigg and Sacred Heart in Penicuik, to include the area. St Margaret’s Recruitment Center.

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It comes after the number of pupils at St Margaret’s fell from 40 to 18 pupils and the board said it expected a number of these children to move to other schools in the near future .

There are no P1 students enrolled in the school for the coming year and it is estimated that the number of students in the school next year could be as low as 6 students. On this basis, the school would manage only one class of pupils from P2 to P7 together.

Following the review, the board approved a recommendation that it retain six denominational elementary schools (instead of seven) and one denominational high school in the area.

Teacher retention was also factored into the review, as RC Primary Schools in Midlothian operated with only 50 percent of the teaching staff having Church approval.

But after efforts to increase the number of teachers, the board expects that next year 67% of teachers in its RC primary schools will be qualified.

Education Council Cabinet Member Councilor Jim Muirhead said: “Our primary goal is to stabilize and strengthen faith-based education in and across the Midlothian. As a result of this very in-depth review, we are now more optimistic about our ability to recruit and retain sufficiently qualified teachers.

“Midlothian has growing enrollment in primary and secondary schools, and our Roman Catholic schools play an important role in providing capacity, especially in areas of increasing pressure, such as Bonnyrigg, Dalkeith, Gorebridge and Mayfield. Our review shows that our goals can be best achieved by retaining 6 RC primary schools and 1 RC secondary school.

As part of the council’s overall learning strategy, it also includes investments in new schools and school expansions, including the renovation and expansion of St David’s Primary School in Dalkeith and an extension of St Andrew’s Primary School in Gorebridge.

During the past year, the renovation and expansion of the Sacré-Coeur Primary School in Penicuik was completed and a new school building was opened at St Mary’s in Bonnyrigg.

Statutory consultation on St Margaret’s will begin in September 2021 and, if approved, arrangements for the new catchment areas will be in place from June 2022.

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