Back to the drawing board for new St Andrews school?

Madras College Kilrymont Campus.
Madras College Kilrymont Campus.

Controversial Fife Council proposals to provide a new secondary school in St Andrews by remodelling and extending the existing junior campus at Kilrymont Road have been given the thumbs down.

Official figures published today (Friday) following a 10-week consultation programme have revealed that 1506 (54.7 per cent) of the 2752 individuals and organisations who responded rejected the plan to develop the £40 million school at the Kilrymont campus, with only 1246 (45.3 per cent) in favour.

Breaking down the results, the feedback showed that of the 2003 statutory consultees who took part - parents, pupils, staff etc - 1194 supported the local authority’s option (59.6 per cent) and 809 (40.4 per cent) were against.

However, there was a massive rebuff to the council option by the public, including local residents, by more than nine to one with just over 93 per cent opposed.

The largest proportion of those backing the council’s plan were pupils in the catchment area with 912 (72.9 per cent) in favour and 339 (27.1) against.

However, opponents of the local authority’s preferred option of refurbishment are likely to be highly sceptical about the pupils’ backing of the project, having previously claimed that the consultation of the students was contrary to statutory guidance and also guidance published by the Office of Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People.

One group against the council plan, Parent Voice, accused Madras rector Ian Jones of encouraging the pupils to vote ‘yes’ for the proposal at a series of assemblies - held on the very first day of the exercise - and claimed that the manner in which the consultation of children and young people was conducted had invalidated the whole process.

Tellingly, however, parents of Madras pupils voted by almost three to one against the council plan - 240 opposed to 78 in favour - and there was almost a similar rejection figure from parents of pupils in the school catchment area with 200 against and only 83 in support.

School staff were 90-11 in favour of the council option, although significantly two of the three community councils who responded were against, including St Andrews Community Council. The four Parent Councils who took part in the consultation were split 50-50 but, most crucially, the Madras Parent Council was against the plan for a single-site building at Kilrymont.

The non-statutory respondents - including local residents, former pupils and others - voted overwhelmingly against the proposal to provide newly built accommodation and facilities at Kilrymont by 697 (93.1 per cent) to a meagre 52 (6.9 per cent) in favour.

Councillor Douglas Chapman, chair of the education and children’s services committee, said:“Again I’d like to thank all those who took the time to come along to meetings and responded to this very important consultation on the future of Madras College.

“A report will now be forwarded to Education Scotland, who will scrutinise the process and report back to Fife Council. The council will now wait for the report by Education Scotland and take time to consider responses of the statutory consultees, as well as those of the wider public.

“This report will be included in the papers presented to a future committee to determine the best way forward.”

The results and comments can be viewed at www.fifedirect.org.uk/madrascollege.