Page last updated at 01:05 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010

Close schools say head teachers

Locked gates
Head teachers are calling for under-occupied schools to close

Head teachers in Edinburgh are calling on councillors to look at closing more schools instead of making sweeping budget cuts to education in the city.

Two years ago, Edinburgh City Council tried to close 22 under-occupied nurseries and schools but plans were scaled back in the face of protests.

Heads claimed 90% of their budget was allotted to fixed costs, such as pay.

They said closing under-occupied schools would be preferable to cutting the budgets of individual schools.

Their call is likely to be watched with interest by councils across the country who are having to consider serious budget cuts.

Schools in Edinburgh are facing the prospect of 2.5% cuts to their budgets in 2010-11 and there are much larger cuts predicted for future years.

Budget cuts

Four schools have been earmarked for closure in Edinburgh, as they are running at only 33% to 41% full.

Figures from Edinburgh City Council showed that the average occupancy rate in primary schools in the city was 74%.

In secondary schools in Edinburgh it was 86%.

There are 8,429 spare primary places and 2,699 secondary places in schools in the city.

Speaking in advance of a key budget session at Edinburgh City Chambers, Rory MacKenzie of Balerno High School, said: "In Edinburgh, primary and secondary head teachers have put papers to senior councillors and the education director saying we don't want any further budget cuts in schools.

"We have also said that we understand the financial restrictions they are under and that there needs to be a rationalisation of the school estate and therefore some schools will have to close.

"We know it is a very difficult, emotive issue and it has a serious impact on some communities."

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