Shared wing plan on the table for swap row schools

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A FRESH battle is set to get under way over a long-running "school swap" plan as education chiefs recommend a city primary donates some of its classrooms to the Catholic school next door.

St Joseph's RC Primary is "bursting at the seams" while Broomhouse, with which it shares a campus, is currently under-occupied.

School bosses had originally envisaged simply swapping the two schools around, but after opposition from Broomhouse parents, they are suggesting a "mutually acceptable solution" by offering St Joseph's some much-needed extra classrooms.

However, the move is expected to be met with opposition by St Joseph's parents, who still want a full school swap.

The issue first came to light a year ago, when it emerged St Joseph's was having to turn pupils away, while Broomhouse was at a third of capacity.

After failing to come up with a solution suitable to parents from both schools, education bosses decided to wait a year to give the communities "breathing space" and allow for options to be explored in more detail.

Since then, work has been carried out by headteachers to try to improve relations between the two schools. This has included joint playtime on a Friday, shared assemblies and joint sports teams.

Following meetings with both sets of parents, the council's education director, Gillian Tee, is proposing that the southern wing of the Broomhouse accommodation is shared between the two schools.

Pupils in this wing would have shared activity space and toilets, but their own separate entrances and exits.

If the sharing option gets the go-ahead, the headteachers of both schools have agreed that religious "iconography" will be displayed in the new St Joseph's classrooms and the joint Friday playtimes would remain.

The already-rejected swap also remains an option for the education committee when it makes its decision next week. The option of doing nothing is also available, although this would require a cap on pupil numbers at St Joseph's.

Ms Tee said: "The conclusion is that sharing accommodation is the most viable option.

"It should be noted, however, that St Joseph's parents still take the view that the switch of accommodation is preferable."

When the shared accommodation option was previously put to St Joseph's parents, they objected on the grounds that some pupils would be "isolated" from the main body of the building.

Broomhouse parents believe it offers the best solution.

City education leader, Councillor Marilyne MacLaren, said: "A cap on places would be counter-productive so we're suggesting that a small part of the school is shared."