Councillors to review primary school estate

Councillors are to be asked to consider a series of proposals relating to a review of Aberdeenshire Council’s primary school estate, along with key guidelines that would apply to any individual reviews of schools.

The proposals are to come before the authority’s Education, Learning and Leisure Committee at a meeting in Woodhill House, Aberdeen, later today (Thursday May 19.

A committee report details plans for a review of Aberdeenshire’s primary schools estate as a whole, supported by extensive consultation with groups including teachers and parents.

The move is part of the council’s aims to provide the highest quality of education in all schools in the area through the development of an improved school estate that is fit for purpose.

The committee will be presented with a variety of information on the estate, including the condition of buildings, capacity figures, and estimated costs of running each school on an annual basis.

The report also highlights the challenges that can be faced by schools with exceptionally small rolls in providing the social and educational opportunities available in larger schools.

The committee will also be asked to consider five key guidelines which, if approved, would be used as part of any reviews affecting individual schools.

It is stressed that no individual school are currently outlined for review, and councillors will not be asked to identify schools for review at the meeting.

Individual reviews are expected to come forward as the process moves forward, although the number of proposals for potential merger of facilities is expected to be relatively small.

The five key guidelines relate to educational, economic and practical considerations, suggesting that:

q No individual child should have to be educated in a school with fewer than three children within two class levels of them

q. The viability of schools with rolls of 19 pupils or less, or at risk of falling below 19, should be the examined in conjunction with parents and staff

q. In considering any possible merger, no individual child should be expected to undertake a home-to-school journey of more than 45 minutes

q. Any school building whose condition is rated as ‘D’ (bad) should be reviewed

q Any town school operating at below 66% capacity within a town whose primary schools are operating at less than 75% capacity overall should be examined in order to identify whether merger proposals should be brought forward

If the proposals are supported, extensive consultation on the schools estate would begin in June and run until October this year.

A report will come before the committee at a future date outlining the outcome of the consultation, and with details of a small number of schools for initial examination under the proposed arrangements.