Call for clarity over possible schools merger

Any plans to amalgamate Glenrothes and Glenwood High School's should be made public say councillors.
Any plans to amalgamate Glenrothes and Glenwood High School's should be made public say councillors.

Opposition councillors have called on Fife Council’s administration to “come clean” over plans to merge two of the town’s high schools.

Concerns are growing over the possibility of Glenrothes and Glenwood High Schools being brought under one roof after £50 million from Fife Council’s capital budget was earmarked for the redevelopment of five new schools across the region, including the two in Glenrothes.

Now Glenrothes councillors Julie Ford and Craig Walker, in whose ward the two schools are located, have called for a clear indication of exactly what the Labour-led administration plans to do with the two sites.

Cllr Ford said: “I wholeheartedly welcome the £50 million commitment, however, having repeatedly made requests to chief executive Steve Grimmond to allow a report to be brought before the town’s area committee, so that all councillors can openly debate the best way of investing in the two schools, I’m increasingly concerned that that request has again been denied.

“The figure seems to have been simply plucked out of thin air with no plan with no clear understanding whatsoever on how it will impact on the schools.”

And Cllr Ford’s call for clarity has been backed by Cllr Walker who has called on the council to learn from the painful lessons of the 2014 Tanshall Primary School closure and allow full engagement with parents, pupils, staff and wider community.

“The investment is welcome and if anything overdue with the school buildings now being over 50 years old,” said Cllr Walker.

“They need real investment in order to fully meet the educational challenges of the future. But they also have separate identities and to merge them would be a mistake.”

Responding in September 2016 to rumours of possible plans to amalgamate the schools, Cllr Bryan Poole, spokesman for Education, Children, Young People and Families, said there were “no plans anywhere” to bring the two facilities together.

He added that the possibility of a merger would only ever come about with the availability of significant Scottish Government funding, of which there was none at that time.

With the council having made a £50m commitment it’s hoped further funding will be made available at national level.

“In the past the Scottish Government has funded two-thirds of the cost of major new schools programmes in Fife,” said Carrie Lindsay, executive director of Education and Children’s Services.

“It’s estimated the overall cost for this new build, or renewal and replacement programme, is around £150m Scottish Government funding programmes are allocated in a variety of ways with given criteria for selecting projects for investment.

“Therefore the allocation of the £50m is, at this point, flexible to take best advantage of whatever streams of funding and criteria come forward from the Scottish Government.

“Councillors and communities will be consulted if and when these projects progress.”