Planning for second primary school in new estate to move forward

The facility is expected to have space for 700 pupils in a bid to solve an ongoing capacity issue.

Planning for second primary school in new Dargavel Village to move forward iStock

Planning for a second school to cater for Dargavel Village will begin after councillors gave officers the go ahead earlier today.

Preparations for a facility, with space for at least 700 pupils, will get under way as efforts are made to solve an ongoing capacity saga.

Renfrewshire Council has confirmed talks have been held with BAE Systems about securing land for the building, but a detailed report covering site selection and timescales is due to be brought forward in May.

Consultant Edge Analytics predicted the number of primary pupils in the Bishopton housing development should peak at 1,131 by 2033 – but also calculated space could be needed for as many as 1,500 if current demand was to continue long-term.

Julie Calder, head of service for curriculum and school estate, told Thursday’s education board: “At this stage we feel it’s prudent to use the 1,131 figure for initial planning purposes.

“As a result, we are recommending that we should begin on planning a new school of a minimum of 700 and a more definitive figure will be brought back to board as planning progresses.

“At the same time, it is important – it’s essential – that we scenario plan for higher numbers of up to the potential maximum of 1,500.

“That means, should the live data show a trend of higher than expected admissions, we will already have a clear set of options scoped out and, importantly, the time to put them in place.

“It’s essential that all bases are covered to ensure that we are not in this position again.”

Councillor Gillian Graham, Labour group education spokesperson, sought an estimate on the cost of a new school for the development.

“It is worrying that we are being asked to sign a blank cheque,” she said.

“We’re not going to stand in the way of progress and will support the development of an additional Dargavel Primary School but it is concerning that it wasn’t in the budget and we’re not being told any figures at this point in time.”

Ms Calder responded: “Members will be asked to approve contracts before anything is issued.

“Costs for a longer-term solution will be established over the coming months…and these will be incorporated into the council’s financial plans.

“At this stage we don’t know what the cost will be, but we’ll continue to keep you updated as we progress through the planning stages.”

A review, ordered in the search for answers over the original botched calculations, is expected to conclude by the end of April.

SNP education convener Emma Rodden thanked officers for their work amid the “ongoing challenges”, as well as elected members, Dargavel Primary School parent council and the wider parent community for their “constructive engagement”.

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