The new Paisley Grammar School – expected to open in August 2026 – will be designed to accommodate a potential maximum of 1,350 pupils.
The state-of-the-art community campus, which will be built at the former Chivas whisky site in Renfrew Road, will replace the existing school in Glasgow Road.
The initial target date for opening was December 2025 but it was felt that timeline risked compromising the quality of the building programme, given the challenges affecting the global construction industry.
An update on the project was provided at Thursday’s education and children’s services policy board.
Councillor Gillian Graham, Labour group education spokesperson, sought clarity on the projected roll and financing of the school.
The campus is being funded by the council and Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), as part of its Learning Estate Investment Programme (LEIP).
Councillor Graham said: “There’s been a bit of a lack of clarity about the projected roll for Paisley Grammar – it’s been 1,100, 1,200, 1,400 – I’m just looking to find out, do we now have a clear, anticipated roll?
“I know that education have been involved with external advisors in terms of looking at projected rolls for the schools. Has Paisley Grammar been part of that?
“The final one, I’m slightly concerned about, we did ask a question in August about whether the targeted operational date of December 2025 was viable and I think education was unable to commit at that time, probably understandably.
“However, there is £36m in LEIP funding that was awarded. Is that now at risk because the opening date has been projected to be six months later?”
SNP councillor Emma Rodden, board convener, said she “appreciated” the questions – both of which she had sought information on herself – before bringing in Julie Calder, the council’s head of service for curriculum and school estate.
A spotlight was shone on the topic of capacity in the school estate when it emerged in November that initial projections for Dargavel Primary School were wide of the mark and more space would be required at the facility in Arrochar Drive, Bishopton.
Six modular classrooms were signed off and options for a permanent solution will be brought before the education board this year.
On Paisley Grammar, Ms Calder said: “The current roll at the moment is 1,017.
“Given recent events, I hope you understand that we considered it prudent to revise the roll projections.
“Having done so, we’re confident that – taking account of the pupils currently in Paisley Grammar who will move to the new school, all the pupils who are in associated primary schools and developments – the school should be designed to accommodate a potential maximum of 1,350 pupils.
“The school’s being designed to include spaces that are flexible enough to accommodate any further increase in pupils should there be one but that would be the maximum potential that we’d be looking at.
“I think I’ve mentioned at a previous board that we’d always future proof in terms of an extension. There is space to extend if required but that would be much further down the line, if at all.
“We’re not using an external agency that we are using with Dargavel because we have 10 years of data. It’s a very different project.
“It’s an established school in an established community and we have a strong database to be able to look at what those roll projections will be.”
She also confirmed that the change to the opening date would not impact the financing of the project.
Ms Calder added: “SFT have confirmed that there will be no penalty so that the delay to the programme will not impact on the funding at all.
“We will be asked how we mitigate to ensure that there’s no further delays and we will of course do that.”