Fife schools £111m ‘super-campus’ plan set to be discussed

The justification for new schools at Fife’s education “super-campus” will be discussed and potentially approved at a council meeting later this week.

Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 5:23 pm
Members of Fife’s policy and co-ordination committee will meet virtually on Thursday, August 5, to talk through the outline business case for a new Woodmill and St Columba’s RC at the Dunfermline Learning Campus.

Members of Fife’s policy and co-ordination committee will meet virtually on Thursday, August 5, to talk through the outline business case for a new Woodmill and St Columba’s RC at the Dunfermline Learning Campus.

During the meeting, councillors are expected to be asked to approve the plan to relocate the two institutions at an estimated cost of £111 million.

The funding for the schools will come from the Scottish Government’s learning estate investment programme as well as developers building homes in the vicinity of the campus, on the former Hyundai factory site beside the M90.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

If the outline business case is approved on Thursday, £19m of that will be used to kickstart the project ahead of a full business case being approved next year.

In a report she will present to the committee, Fife Council education boss Carrie Lindsay says incorporating the two schools into a shared campus with Fife College will expand the types of learning on offer, especially to older pupils who may be considering college.

“The ambition is to develop and deliver ‘one coherent offer’ to young people which highlights the learning packages available to them across school and college, and the routes for progression,” she writes in her paper justifying the move.

“[The school will] provide increased opportunities to create an inclusive learning community, where pupils can be involved in learning across all curricular areas, particularly in the senior phase.”

Under plans tabled by the education director, Woodmill and St Columba’s will share some facilities such as specialised classrooms for art, craft and design, food technology, music, PE and drama. However, each school will retain its independence, with each having its own classrooms for core learning.

The “super-campus” is the first such project of its kind, and Lindsay says the opportunity is perfect at a time when the existing Woodmill and St Columba’s are rated as category “C” buildings – the second-worst rating given by national assessors.

Woodmill was heavily damaged by a fire in 2019, for which a 14-year-old boy was later charged. Pupils went back in January 2020, but some were relocated to external portable cabins.

Communities and councillors have broadly welcomed the plans for both the Dunfermline Learning Campus itself and the community that will surround it – but current landowner Shepherd Offshore has raised eyebrows with some aspects of the plans, such as a 16-pump petrol station in the north-east corner.

An application to build 193 homes beside the proposed super-campus is to be discussed by local councillors on Wednesday. The bid has been met with 20 objections from locals.

A detailed planning application for the schools is expected to be submitted later this month. If all goes to plan, construction will begin in May next year, with a target completion date of June 2024.