Implementing change

In response to legislation, and to population pressures, East Lothian County Council Education Department initiated a reorganisation of educational facilities and a countywide building programme, focussing on improved facilities for both primary and secondary pupils through the renovation of old school premises and the building of new schools.


Facilities for pre-school children continued to be limited; initial steps had been made in the provision of nursery places at Knox Academy in Haddington, and the privately run Compass School there opened in 1962 primarily to meet the needs of pre-school children. As a result of the trends towards both parents working, the demand for pre-school provision increased, particularly from the mid-1970s. In 1997, Haddington Infant school nursery class was selected as the new East Lothian Council base for the inclusion of children (3-5) with severe and complex special educational needs. With extended and improved facilities and additional staffing, this policy of integration appears to have been successful, with both sets of children benefiting.

By 2000, there were four council-run nursery schools (catering for 3-5s), and 25 primary schools offered integrated nursery school provision, again from three years. In addition, there was a proliferation of private nursery schools across the county, and many other (often voluntarily-run) childcare services on offer. First Step in Musselburgh was a particularly successful group, set up in 1987 by a group of parents. Nursery care and support also came under the work of the New Community Schools Initiatives from 1999.

Meeting needs other than education

From 1957, facilities for the provision of school meals formed an integral part of building plans. In 1948, children’s clubs were introduced into a number of schools and a youth employment service began in 1949. Over time, there was increasing input from other agencies such as the health service, through, for example, its inoculation programmes in schools. The notion of the education of the child as a distinct and separate element was being replaced, decade-by-decade, with the concept of responsibility towards the whole development of the child.

Specific help and support

By 1955, the Education Committee had recommended the appointment of a speech therapist and an educational psychologist to assist with support for the ‘unwilling learner’. In 1971, Dunbar primary school introduced an Adjustment System, the first in the county. Renamed as the Remedial System, this was later known as Learning Support Education, and the support teacher was able to help both the under-achieving and the under-stretched pupils (Glass, L (1997 p126). Similarly, Preston Lodge had a Remedial Department, changing to Learning Support in 1978; in 1979/80, the Special Needs base was established, and by 1999 a third base was added, providing support for pupils with social, emotional and behavioural problems (Preston Lodge, 1924-1999 p32 S Walker).