Kirkland host for school estate debate

Kirkland High School
Kirkland High School
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A SERIES of meetings to discuss possible changes to Fife’s school estate continues tonight (Wednesday) at Kirkland High School.

Parents across the Kingdom have been invited to meet members of Fife Council’s administration and senior officers to hear more about the proposed review, which is looking at catchment changes, mergers and possible school closures.

The meetings – which began last week at Waid Academy in Anstruther – are in the form of ‘drop- in’ sessions, between 6.00 p.m. and 8.00 p.m. Members of the administration will also introduce the priorities and challenges for education at 7.00 p.m., followed by discussion between parents and a panel of elected members and senior officers of Fife Council.

Parents are invited to come along, when they can, within these times and officers will be able to discuss the review and listen to local issues or concerns.

Levenmouth councillors have already expressed warnings about the effect school closures can have on communities, making the decisions even more perilous.

Councillor Bryan Poole, executive spokesman for education, children, young people and families, said: “We are committed to having a full and frank discussion on this emotive subject, listening to the views of everyone affected by the review, and will include opportunities for people to make their views known throughout the process.

“With the budget challenge we face over the next three years, we have to ensure money is being directed at school buildings which are fit for purpose now and in the future – not at funding surplus school places and maintaining failing buildings.”

Cllr Poole added: “It must be stressed that, although we have set out a number of principles which we are looking at to try to reduce the number of surplus places in Fife, no school is looked at just in terms of its condition or its occupancy levels.

“Every school needs to be looked at and measured using a wide number of criteria which are then balanced with its own unique place in the community.

“The review we are carrying out will lead to Fife having the right number of buildings to support high-quality education and will mean more money is spent on the education of our young people, as opposed to the maintenance of under-utilised school buildings that, in a few cases, are also in a less than satisfactory condition.”

The parent engagement meetings will be followed by a report to the Council’s executive committee on March 26, where the committee will be looking at specific proposals on changes, including possible school closures.

Any formal statutory consultation will then run from early May to the end of the summer term, with any consultation reports published at the end of September.

Many of Fife’s school buildings pose challenges in terms of their condition and suitability for 21st century schooling and accessibility. A large number are significantly under-occupied, while others face accommodation pressures as pupil rolls are increasing in some areas.