Plans for a Carrongrange 'super school' still awaiting funding news
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Education chiefs at Falkirk Council revealed their plans last October to expand the current Carrongrange High School to include a primary unit and additional classrooms on the present Grangemouth campus.
The proposal was expected to cost £23 million but the local authority was hopeful that the Scottish Government’s Learning Estate Investment Programme (LEIP) would come up with 50 per cent of the funding.
Nine months later the council is still waiting to hear if its bid for the cash has been successful.
The proposal would create five extra primary classrooms – taking the total to 20 – and ten new secondary classrooms, although four of these will replace modular buildings currently being used.
All of the current primary classes for ASN pupils at Maddiston Primary’s Timezone and Kinnaird Primary's Thistle Wing and the Thistle Wing Annex will transfer to the new purpose-built facility under the proposal.
Councillors heard last year that the move was necessary to cope with the increase in pupils with severe and complex needs.
Gary Greenhorn, Falkirk Council’s head of planning and resources, told them that while the current Carrongrange High School had been a success, they were already finding it difficult to accommodate the growing number of children with severe and complex learning needs.
Benefits of a single campus include all pupils being able to access resources such as a hydrotherapy pool and outside play, while the building would also act as a hub for social work and NHS staff providing support.
The extra classrooms should also mean that pupils with severe and complex learning needs pupils will no longer have to be sent to schools outwith the district.
While nursery classes will not be provided on site, the Early Years ASN provision will be managed from the site and will be provided “via satellite local sites across the Falkirk area”.
Mr Greenhorn gave an assurance that a full consultation would begin if the bid was successful and officials had already discussed the plans “on an informal basis” with the relevant headteachers and parent councils.
The council’s aim is to start on site around Easter next year with Mr Greenhorn adding: “Our designs are so far advanced that this project is ready to go if we can get the funding agreed.”
But this week a council spokesperson admitted that although the project was submitted to the Scottish Government as part of its LEIP Phase 3 programme they were still awaiting an announcement to learn if this had been successful.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Since 2007, the number of schools in good or satisfactory condition has increased from 61 per cent to 90.4 per cent – seeing a 77 per cent reduction in pupils educated in substandard conditions. The £2 billion investment in the school estate through LEIP is intended to build on that progress.
“Scottish Government officials wrote to all local authorities in March, to explain that consideration of the projects that would form part of Phase 3 was still ongoing. This set out that further time was necessary to consider the scope of Phase 3, including to take account of the impact of market volatility on current projects.
“We are currently giving careful consideration to local authorities’ bids for Phase 3 of the Learning Estate Investment Programme and intend to announce the successful bids as soon as possible.”