Major steps have been taken to provide assisted support needs children (ASN) with the best possible learning experience at both primary and secondary school level.
Looking to the future, Falkirk Council approved the final proposals for the new Carrongrange School and announced this week construction on the £17.5 million building was scheduled to start on Monday, May 9 on land near Moray Primary School in Grangemouth.
The school is now on course to be open by August 2017.
Members of the council’s education committee also agreed measures to expand the assisted support needs (ASN) provision for primary school pupils, including employing more teachers and classroom assistants.
At Tuesday’s meeting Councillor Linda Gow wanted assurances the new school would be able to cope with increasing numbers of ASN pupils.
Robert Naylor, Director of Children’s Services said it had the capacity to cater to 190 pupils and would allow the authority to go “into the next century and beyond with the confidence we can meet the needs of these pupils”.
He added: “The new school will provide pupils with a welcoming and flexible learning environment across two floors and will include modern specialist classroom equipment and facilities to meet the needs of all pupils.”
Members heard 50 per cent of the cost of the new school is being provided by the Scottish Government’s Schools for the Future programme with the remainder coming from the council’s capital programme.
In addition to classroom accommodation, the new school will feature therapy and sensory rooms, a life skills training flat, multi-purpose and flexible social space areas, swimming and hydro-therapy pools, a sensory garden and pupil transport drop off zones.
Councillor Robert Spears shared his concerns about another feature of the plans – the school’s biomass boiler.
He said: “I would assume there will be a large chimney attached to this biomass boiler to take the smoke away. My problem is not with the biomass boiler, but the emissions that come from it.
“There is going to have to be a be a very high chimney but I don’t see it on any of the drawings – at this stage in the plans that detail should be available.”
Officers said there would be a chimney, but they did not know how high it would be. They added planning permission for the school had already been granted and no objections had been lodged regarding the biomass boiler or the associated chimney.
They stated biomass boilers were used in a number of schools in Clackmannanshire and Perth and biomass was viewed as one of the better fuels in terms of emissions.
Education spokesman Councillor Alan Nimmo said: “I think both schools, Moray and Carrongrange, will integrate really well and it’s up to the schools’ head teachers to drive that forward.”
The existing Carrongrange School, located in Stenhousemuir, also plays a part in the council’s plans to cope with the increase in ASN pupils as it will undergo internal alterations within three existing classrooms at a cost of around £100,000 to create ASN adaptations.
Members heard it is often the equipment that comes along with ASN pupils which limits the places where they can be taught and specialist equipment needs like this must be taken into account when it comes to calculating accommodations.