TWO Haddington primary schools could merge under plans being considered by East Lothian Council.

Haddington Infant School and King’s Meadow Primary School could become a single school under proposals that were revealed earlier this week.

A consultation will begin early in the New Year, when parents will be asked for their views.

Fiona Robertson, council head of education, sent out a letter to parents and carers last Thursday.

She said: “Our priority is to maintain high-quality education provision for all pupils at the existing schools.

“It is increasingly common for one single school to provide education to pupils all the way through from nursery to P7.

“The main change from the present arrangement is that there would be one shared management team overseeing the learning and teaching for all children, with staff at all levels of the school working closely together.

“The present school buildings would continue to be utilised.”

Currently Haddington Infant School, on the town’s Tynebank Road, caters for children from nursery to primary 3, with a school roll of 309 and a further 40 youngsters at the nursery.

Kings Meadow Primary School, on Neilson Park Road, is home to 350 pupils in P4-7.

Mrs Robertson added: “It is important to stress that no decisions have been made at this stage. Following the statutory consultation period all views will be considered and a decision would then require to be made by the full East Lothian Council.

“If approved, Scottish Government Ministers would then reserve the right to ‘call-in’ the proposal for further consideration.”

Already the chairwomen of the schools’ parent councils have been contacted.

In a joint statement, May Matthews, chairwoman of Haddington Infant School parent council, and Meg Pathirana, chairwoman of Kings Meadow Primary School parent council, said: “The decision of East Lothian Council to propose the amalgamation of Haddington Infant School and King’s Meadow Primary School has come as a surprise to both parent councils.

“This idea was raised, consulted and then voted upon by parents of both schools roughly five years ago with a clear majority preferring the schools to remain separate.

“We will work in the coming weeks to determine current views of parents and ensure these are represented.

“We are disappointed East Lothian Council have only announced this decision now, when it was made public in June that [Haddington Infant School headteacher Shirley] Swinton would be retiring in October [see story on page 10].

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank Mrs Swinton for all her hard work and dedication over the years and wish her all the best for her retirement.”

Have your say

The ward’s four councillors encouraged people to have their say on the proposals.

Provost John McMillan said: “It is very much being put openly to the parents to think about. It is the parents, in my mind, who will decide.”

Councillor Tom Trotter added: “I can see there is a lot of sense in it.

“Obviously, effectively it is one school anyway in that the kids go to King’s Meadow from the infant school – so I see the sense in it.

“I would encourage everybody to have their say. You would say it is fairly straight forward but it is a big, big decision, most important for the kids.

“Anything that benefits their education I am in favour of.”

Councillor Brian Small said there would undoubtedly be some people in favour of a merger and some people against it.

He added: “The education department met with all the elected members for the ward to mention about their intention to carry out the statutory school consultation.

“My view is that as long as it is not a cost-cutting exercise and there can prove to be educational benefits for the kids then I would be supportive.”

Councillor Shamin Akhtar encouraged all parents and carers to “engage with the process”.