Cautious Welcome for Proposals for New Schools and Community Facilities
19 June 2012
Three of the reports appearing on the agenda of the Education Committee on Monday 25 June are about proposals for future school building projects.
This includes initiating formal consultations on a new primary school, nursery and linked community facilities in both the Coldside and Menzieshill areas.
As both areas involve potential school mergers, a formal consultation process is the next step.
Appearing on the same agenda is a report advising the Committee of a bid for possible government funding towards a replacement Baldragon Academy, Sidlaw View Primary School and Jessie Porter Nursery on the Baldragon Academy site.
Labour's Education Spokesperson, Councillor Laurie Bidwell said,
“Its positive news for parents, carers, pupils and teachers in Menzieshill and Coldside.
“They will all be pleased that the proposals for a new primary school in each of these areas with linked nursery school and possible community facilities is moving towards the formal public consultation stage.
“In both Menzieshill and Coldside parents, carers and teachers will need to be consulted on the potential merger of their local primary schools and the best site for the merged schools.
“For service users of all ages who use community centres and projects in both areas there are issues about possible co-location of community facilities with schools to resolve.
“Certainly, the demolition of multi-storey flats has made available centrally located sites in both these areas of the city for the potential new schools and community facilities.
“The consultations will allow all those with an interest to be involved in selecting the best option available including the most suitable site and the best mix of schools, nursery and community facilities.
“While the proposals for a bid for additional funding for new schools is positive, I do have some concerns.
“Just four months ago in February 2012 when the new 2012-17 capital plan was brought forward, Councillor Keenan and I queried why there were no new proposals for comprehensively refurbishing or replacing any of our secondary schools, especially Baldragon Academy whose buildings are over 50 years old.
“It's good that the Council has changed its mind but this decision calls into question the thoroughness of their analysis in the school estate review.
“A bid for funding is no guarantee of government support. Dundee lost out in the second round of new schools to be built with funding from the Scottish Futures Trust so let's hope it will be third time lucky.
“Unfortunately, any replacement schools in the Strathmartine ward are probably a long way off.
“Funding for Harris Academy comes from the same source and its funding was announced in September 2009 and their pupils and teachers are not due to move into their new school until 2016.”
Strathmartine Councillor Kevin Keenan said,
“I am encouraged to learn that there is now recognition that three of the schools in the Strathmartine ward need replacement - these schools being Baldragon Academy, Sidlaw View Primary School and Jessie Porter Nursery.
“New schools are something that I believe would have the full support and backing of teachers, pupils, staff, parents and the wider community.
“I hope the Council will be successful with its bid to the Scottish Futures Trust.
“ If the Council's need any additional indicator of community support for these new schools, I would be the first to put my name to any petition.
“The Council's contribution to funding the possible new schools in the Strathmartine area is likely to be £10 - £15M.
“There is no provision for this in the new capital plan 2012-17.
“I hope that the Council will not be faced with deciding which of its other new schools to delay in order to progress these new schools in my ward.
“I hope that all the Scottish Futures Trust's teething problems and red tape that delayed the rebuilding of Harris Academy are sorted out, allowing the next phase of their developments to hit the ground quickly, delivering new schools for our children and helping the local construction industry.”