ABERDEEN City Council leaders today pledged to fully consult affected parents and communities before any final decisions are taken on a major shake up of the city’s primary school estate.
A series of school closures, mergers and changes to zoning policies have been outlined in a report to go before a special meeting of the council’s education, culture and sport committee next Thursday.
The proposals include the merger of the Quarryhill and Bramble Brae primaries, the merger of the Middleton Park and Glashieburn primaries, and the closure of the Abbotswell and Kirkhill primaries with a new school to be created on an as yet unidentified site.
The recommendations also include a £14million refurbishment programme, the rezoning of some catchment areas and increased nursery provision.
Councillor Jenny Laing, the committee’s convener, said: “We have to ensure that the educational provision within the city is the best it can possibly be. In order to achieve this it is essential that we draw up a strategy that provides clear direction and vision for the next 20 to 25 years.
“We have to make important decisions that will affect education in the city for many years to come. That is why it is vital that we make the right decisions and, by working together, ensure we get the best educational outcomes for this and future generations.”
She stressed: “We would be looking at statutory consultation on a number of different issues so people will have an opportunity at that stage to make their views known.”
Councillor Ross Thomson, the committee’s vice-convener, said: “Huge numbers of parents, teachers and pupils have actively engaged in the council’s consultation on the school estate review. I am heartened that many of those views are reflected in the proposals which will be open to further consultation.
“Aberdeen has changed significantly and the school estate as it stands does not reflect those changes. We believe our schools should be fit for purpose for the 21st century and that they must provide the very best education possible for every single pupil across this city. We are aspirational for what all our pupils and teachers can achieve. We have worked closely with parents, pupils, teachers and communities and we will continue to do so as we move forward together.”
According to the report, 14 of the city’s 49 primaries were built of granite during the reign of Queen Victoria, nine between the 1930s and 50s and another ten in the 1960s and 70s.
It continues: “There is a requirement to improve the suitability of the granite-built Victorian Schools which are located within established communities across the city.A programme to improve suitability should be instigated which would involve exploring possible alterations to internal and external facilities.”
“The vast majority of new housing developments are around the periphery of the city and this puts pressure on accommodation in existing suburban schools. City centre schools and those in areas with
an aging population are under-occupied and the trend for under-occupancy in some schools is accelerating.
“The number of pupils in twenty of our primary schools is forecast to exceed capacity within the next four years, resulting in a shortfall of approximately 1000 places in these schools. The Associated Schools
Groups where there will be insufficient places are Aberdeen Grammar School, Bucksburn Academy and Cults Academy. “