Councillors consider next steps for local primary schools

Perth & Kinross Council aspires to have fit-for-purpose school buildings, which not only reflect the high value we place on learning but are efficient and effective to manage.

As part of the transformation of the school estate, Elected Members will be asked to consider the future of four Perth & Kinross Council schools at the next meeting of the local authority's Lifelong Learning Committee meeting on 24 January 2018.

The development of this first phase of options appraisals was approved by the Lifelong Learning Committee in November 2016.  A total of 10 schools are included in this phase, with four schools being considered by this Committee at their January meeting. These schools are: St Ninian's Episcopal Primary School, Forteviot Primary School, Balhousie Primary School and North Muirton Primary School. 

Feedback to be considered

Elected Members will consider detailed information on each school and community, including feedback from drop-in sessions and on-line questionnaires.

New nursery

The Committee will firstly be asked to approve a proposal to establish a local authority nursery in St Ninian's Episcopal Primary School. This will support the expansion nursery provision from 600 hours to 1140 hours throughout Perth and Kinross.  It is anticipated that this will also sustain pupil numbers in the school, which have been reducing over recent years. If approved, design work for the nursery would commence in consultation with the school, as there is no statutory consultation required for the introduction of a nursery currently.

Statutory consultation process

Elected Members will be asked to approve to undertake a statutory consultation process to close Forteviot Primary School permanently. Forteviot Primary School was mothballed in October 2016, with the majority of pupils currently attending Forgandenny Primary School. The report states that it is not anticipated that Forteviot Primary School will have a sustainable roll in the next four years and also that pupils have settled well in Forgandenny Primary School. 

Options appraisal

Finally the Committee will consider an options appraisal for Balhousie Primary School and North Muirton Primary School. Both schools are being appraised due to the poor condition of the school buildings. In addition, Balhousie Primary School is under-occupied. The report proposes that a new school is built on the current site of North Muirton Primary School. This school will be designed to accommodate pupils from North Muirton Primary School and Balhousie Primary School. The new school would be completed in 2022. In order to progress the preferred option, Elected Members are being asked to approve a statutory consultation to close Balhousie Primary School.

Valuable asset

Convener of Perth & Kinross Council's Lifelong Learning Committee, Councillor Caroline Shiers commented:  "The school estate is a valuable asset to the communities of Perth and Kinross and. there is significant investment planned for the school estate in coming years. However, there are also many challenges requiring to be addressed including the need to spend wisely, securing best value for money. The decisions being made by Committee today will allow us to, progress to statutory consultation, where it is considered to be the best option, during which parents, pupils, staff and communities will have the opportunity to engage further in the process. This is by no means the end of the process."