Concerns over potentially insufficient space in second village school

New analysis suggested space could be needed for as many as 1,500 primary pupils by 2033.

Concerns over potentially insufficient space in second school for Dargavel village iStock

Parents have sounded the alarm over the planned size of a second school in Dargavel – arguing a capacity of around 700 pupils could still be “insufficient”.

Renfrewshire Council has held talks with BAE Systems about securing land for the facility, with elected members set to be asked to give officers the green light to move forward with plans at next Thursday’s education board.

New analysis suggested space could be needed for as many as 1,500 primary pupils by 2033 – but the current Arrochar Drive school’s preferred maximum was 548 before modular classrooms, with room for up to 198, were signed off.

While it has welcomed plans for an additional school, Dargavel Primary School Parent Council raised concerns about the suggested capacity of the future building.

Alan Kelly, the group’s chair, told elected members: “We are pleased that the council officers are making a recommendation for an additional school and we look forward to construction of this starting urgently.

“However, from the numbers that we have seen, one additional school with capacity of only 700 pupils is still insufficient for the requirements for primary school provision coming out of the housing scheme over the next 10 years.

“Furthermore, if it takes a minimum of three years to build the school then in the interim there will be a huge capacity pressure being placed on local schools.

“Therefore, future house sales must be restricted until school capacity is in place.

“It is also important that roll projections coming out of Dargavel Village are regularly and continually reviewed, every school term.”

The parent council told councillors and officers to learn lessons from existing issues at Dargavel Primary School, citing “noise within the school” and “safe access roads”, and urged them to develop “real plans” for secondary school provision.

“With over 1,500 pupils going through primary from Dargavel at one time it is surely evident to everyone that an additional high school is needed,” Mr Kelly added. “Let’s not waste any more time.

“We are grateful for the engagement that we are having with the council officers, we trust that this will continue. Trust is slowly being established.

“Unfortunately I need to make one final point. From the beginning of this issue we have been clear that we did not want it to be politicised.

“Councillors of all political parties are implicated in the incompetence that has got us to this situation. It will only be solved with cooperation amongst yourselves.

“We strongly recommend, in fact insist, that attempts to politically point score, using our children, stop. Focus on fixing the problem, urgently.”

Steven Quinn, the council’s director of children’s services, previously confirmed options would be developed to provide “flexibility to increase primary school capacity in the wider area” should it be needed.

This week, a spokesperson for the local authority said they “greatly appreciate” the ongoing support of the parent council.

They added: “We will continue to work closely with them on the important matters they raise.

“This will be discussed with elected members and will be the subject of a report to the next education and children’s services policy board on March 9.”

A spokesperson for BAE added: “We recognise the importance of primary education provision to the local community and have delivered a new primary school to support the Dargavel Village development to the agreed requirements of the planning obligations.

“In light of the current situation, we are exploring potential options to assist Renfrewshire Council.”

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