Cupar schools are bursting at the seams

Bell Baxter High School would have to be extended.
Bell Baxter High School would have to be extended.

Schools in Cupar are already full to bursting point and could not cope with the numbers of pupils that would be created by expanding the town.

That’s the stark warning from Fife’s education bosses as a decision on the controversial Cupar North development draws closer.

The Cupar North Consortium – comprising Persimmon Homes, Headon Developments and Vico Properties Ltd. – is hoping to build more than 1400 homes, together with other facilities, on farmland to the north of the town.

The consortium’s blueprint does include a primary school – but according to Fife’s education service, it would have to be built before any houses were constructed.

And although there is currently capacity at Bell Baxter High School, an extension will be needed in time.

Responding to concerns raised by North East Fife MP Stephen Gethins, Fife’s head of education and children’s services Shelagh McLean said that new Scottish Government guidelines meant that Castlehill Primary School will lose three of its 21 classrooms in order to accommodate more nursery provision, while there was no extra capacity at all at St Columba’s.

That means that existing capacity will be breached before building even starts.

Ms McLean said: “The overall primary school requirement to support this development is 15 classes, although the pupil roll is expected to rise over time in line with the development.

“Therefore, it is considered acceptable that a full single stream school (seven primary classes) is constructed as an initial phase. A subsequent phase of additional classrooms, to increase the capacity to 15 classes, can be added at a later date.

“Alternatively, if an Early Years facility is constructed by 2020, and the existing classrooms can be retained for use as primary classes, it is anticipated that the existing primary capacity will be breached at a later date.

Mr Gethins said: “I remain opposed to the Cupar North development due to the impact on the existing town infrastructure. The information provided to me by Fife Council’s head of education and children’s services shows that much needs to be done to ensure Cupar’s school pupils can cope in the event that Cupar North goes ahead and that any changes to the current set up will not be detrimental to pupils and staff.

“It is clear that this development will have a significant impact on local education provision with a new primary school or nursery required in the first phase of development, as well as an extension to Bell Baxter High School which is already one of the biggest secondary schools in Fife.”