Option to merge Kirkcaldy high schools to be considered

Viewforth High School Kirkcaldy
Viewforth High School Kirkcaldy

COUNCILLORS are being asked to consider the possibility of merging Viewforth and Kirkcaldy high schools.

It’s one of three options suggested as a solution to the problem of finding a way of replacing the current Viewforth building, which is rated as one of the secondary schools in Fife in the poorest condition.

A plan to build a replacement school in Kirkcaldy East was included in the ‘Building Fife’s Future’ programme in 2008, and a new school was expected to be in place by 2019.

However, funding was linked to house building in the Kirkcaldy east area, with half of the anticipated £25m cost due to be met by contributions from developers. With the recession devastating the construction industry, this plan has stalled.

That led to members of Fife Council’s executive committee asking for a review of secondary education in Kirkcaldy and possible alternative options for the replacement of Viewforth.

The idea of merging Viewforth and Kirkcaldy high schools is one of the options being put before the committee at their meeting on Tuesday.

Speaking at the executive committee meeting back in June, Council leader Alex Rowley said it was important to explore possible solutions to the problems faced at Viewforth.

He said: “Parents in Kirkcaldy East, over many years, have seen their school always included in the capital programme to be replaced, but unfortunately that’s as far as it’s got.

“Each time a new school comes along somewhere else, parents pupils and the wider community in Kirkcaldy must wonder why their school doesn’t get done.

“There is a need for transparency on the Viewforth situation and a need to explain what the options are.”

The merger option would involve creating an extended and remodelled school on the current Kirkcaldy High School site. The £12.5m in the Council’s capital programme earmarked to pay for its share of a replacement for Viewforth would be used to meet the building costs.

In his report to the executive committee, Kenneth Greer, executive director (education and learning) says as both schools are under capacity, it would be possible to merge them in an extended school on the existing Kirkcaldy High campus.

He adds: “This would provide the opportunity to upgrade the existing facilities at Kirkcaldy High to provide state-of-the-art facilities to support the delivery of Curriculum for Excellence to an expanded pupil population.”

And he says the co-location of education facilities would “generate revenue budget savings” including property and management related costs.

The other two options put forward both involve building a new high school on the Windmill playing fields in the east of the town, however, both these options face funding problems, and all options would require a full statutory education consultation.