Investment for Beauly, Dunvegan and Kiltearn Primary Schools
The Highland Council is pleased to announce that members agreed to allocate funding from the Scottish Government (SG) capital allocation for the Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) expansion programme to make significant improvements to Beauly, Dunvegan and Kiltearn Primary School estates.
Council agreed (27 June) to substantially enhance the outcomes achieved from the ELC investment in these locations by augmenting it with Council capital funding. This investment will support Council’s challenging programme to deliver the SG commitment to expand ELC provision by August 2020 which will include significant additional capacity to ensure the expanded provision is delivered in fit-for-purpose accommodation.
The Council will therefore invest in a new build for nursery, kitchen, dining, games hall and ancillary accommodation, along with the demolition of some poor quality buildings for Beauly and Dunvegan. This approach will make the best use of the ELC funding available at this time and it will also see the demolition of buildings at each school that are among the poorest in Highland, and where major concerns exist about their condition and fitness for purpose.
The school building at Kiltearn can be extended to provide the additional nursery accommodation required, and partially refurbished to bring it up to at least a “B” rating for both Condition and Suitability.
Chair of the Care, Learning and Housing Committee, John Finlayson, said: “Investing in improvements to our Highland school estate is a priority for the Highland Council and a subject of great importance to all parents and stakeholders within our communities. The Council is working hard to deliver the SG commitment to expand ELC provision by August 2020. This is one of the key priorities of the Council, as is the commitment to continue the programme of refurbishment and renovation of Highland schools.”
A report to Council in March 2018, agreeing the capital programme, made clear the need for capital investment was far greater than the funding available. Eleven schools were agreed to be priorities: These include a Tain 3-18 campus; Nairn and Fortrose secondary schools; schools in Invergordon; Beauly, Broadford, Dunvegan and Tarradale primaries; St. Clements school and primaries in Alness and Kiltearn.
Budget Leader Alister Mackinnon said: “The Council’s capital planning now assumes £50million of capital over 5 years to support the eleven specific school priorities we have identified out of our total school estate of over 200 schools. The proposed capital investment is based on £25million of Council funding plus an assumed successful bid to Scottish Government for a further £25million, when this process opens later this year. However, £50million would not be sufficient to address the capital investment required for all 11 schools. We appreciate that communities want the best possible schools and are doing everything we possibly can to be bid-ready to make the funding case for these schools. We will continue to engage with the Scottish Government and the Scottish Futures Trust, with regard to the 11 priorities and the wider school estate within Highland and will continue to pro-actively make the case for investment in Highland schools.”
- Whilst these projects would not be completed by August 2020, interim measures would be put in place to ensure that the expanded ELC provision is able to be delivered by the deadline. The Head Teachers and staff in the schools are supportive of these measures and further engagement with stakeholders will take place now that proposals have been agreed by Council.
- While these schools would receive investment ahead of the other priorities, it should be noted that this will not deliver completely new schools in any of the 3 locations, and there would be no guarantee as to when funding would be available for further phases of new build at either Beauly or Dunvegan. The long term objectives for both Beauly and Dunvegan would remain as completely new schools, but any further investment in the future would have to be assessed in line with the proposed estate review.
- Highland Council capital agreed for the 3 schools is as follows: Beauly £2,000,000, Dunvegan £1,500,000 and Kiltearn £1,060,000.
- Since March 2018, the Council has written to John Swinney MSP, Depute First Minister, highlighting these 11 priorities, and the challenges facing Highland’s school estate which totals over 200 schools. At a local level, elected members, Parent Councils and other stakeholders have also highlighted needs to MSPs and to Ministers. The Council has also progressed work to review options in terms of these priorities, assess what further work may be necessary to progress options assessment, and sought to engage with as many stakeholders as possible.
- As it currently stands, the Scottish Government have announced a further £1Billion pounds of funding for the learning estate across Scotland, with this to be available from 2021 onwards. This would be expected to be matched by Councils successful in securing funding, meaning a total of £2bn of investment across Scotland. The Council expects a further announcement from Scottish Government on funding later this calendar year, providing more detail on the bidding basis, criteria to be used, and details of the funding arrangements.