New schools considered for South Formartine

Councillors have given their thoughts on plans to build two new schools in South Formartine.

Replacing Foveran School is one option the council is considering
Replacing Foveran School is one option the council is considering

Aberdeenshire Council is currently considering proposals to replace Foveran School or build an additional school at Balmedie.

Officers found that between 240 to 300 new primary school places could be needed within the area in the near future through school roll forecasts.

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A site had been earmarked for educational use at Blackdog however it was removed and is no longer available.

Foveran School has capacity for 47 pupils – its current school roll is 45 (96%) but within the next five years numbers are expected to reach 86 pupils hitting 182% capacity.

It doesn’t have a dedicated school hall so pupils have to travel to the village hall for PE activities.

It only has a servery kitchen meaning no fresh meals can be cooked there and have to be sent across from Balmedie.

There are no breakfast or after school clubs and no nursery provision either meaning the nearest facility for Foveran youngsters is at Newburgh Mathers School which is two miles away.

Council chiefs say there is no room on the existing Foveran site for an extension.

However the local authority has held discussions with a local landowner for a potential school site.

If a new school were to be built at Foveran it would be designed with capacity for 300 youngsters.

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Balmedie has room for 484 pupils – its school roll is currently sitting at 398 (82%).

Balmedie Nursery is located in a separate building on the site which currently looks after 50 youngsters per session.

Additional nursery care is provided at Potterton Community Centre for 24 children.

The Balmedie School site is large enough for an extension but officers say Forsyth Road would be “unable to cope” with the extra traffic.

The potential second school could be built to the south of the village with capacity for 300 pupils including an opportunity for future expansion.

Members of the Formartine area committee were asked for their views on the proposal.

The new school at Foveran was welcomed by local members however there wasn’t much support for the second Balmedie school.

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Councillor Gillian Owen, chair of the education and children’s services committee, believed that Balmedie was “too small a settlement to merit a second primary school”.

She also urged the council to progress with a new facility at Foveran saying it would give the local authority “an exciting opportunity to further develop our learning estate and meet the growing demand in the Formartine area”.

Councillor Isobel Davidson didn’t favour the idea of having a second school at Balmedie either: “One of our priorities for locating new facilities is about place and adding to the community capacity and building communities.

“We don’t get that by adding a second school into a village that already has one.

“It is inclined to be divisive and separates children out which is not the best way forward.”

Councillor Paul Johnston urged the council to “have a rethink” about the proposals and believed further negotiations were needed to include alternative sites in Blackdog and Potterton.

Meanwhile councillor Jenny Nicol asked for consultations to be carried out with members of the local communities for their thoughts and opinions.

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The committee’s comments will be passed on to the education and children’s services committee for consideration.