A year has passed since the opening of Fife’s very first community campus – and it has been hailed as a huge success.
The Windmill Community Campus in Kirkcaldy incorporates Rosslyn School, Viewforth High, a public library and a Fife Council local office, all under one roof.
It opened at the start of the 2016/17 school year and it proved to be a successful and enjoyable year with pupils at the high school gaining Viewforth’s best ever set of results.
Rector Adrian Watt called Fife’s Council decision to build the campus as “visionary” and stressed “it’s more than just a school.”
“The campus enjoys great support from local elected members, especially the Kirkcaldy Area Chairman, Councillor Neil Crooks,” he said.
“Each day we find more ways the different services can work together to benefit people from this part of Kirkcaldy and beyond.
“Being campus leader, as all the different services are working ever more closely, has not been without its challenges.
“But I am indebted to the other campus board members for their wisdom and support and in particular to Andrew Stokes for doing a lot of the nuts and bolts work to make the campus so successful.
“There is no doubt the job is harder, the hours are longer, but the rewards of seeing more people, young and old, doing a greater range of things in such lovely surroundings makes all the hard work worthwhile.”
Moving to a new home was even more of challenge for the pupils of Rosslyn School who have additional support needs, but head teacher Paul Meijer said they endeavoured to make the move as smooth as possible.
“The architect team were superb,” he said, “they consulted with us, they came out and spoke to the parents and put a lot of their fears and anxieties to bed, and asked us what was good and bad about the old building. And they really listened and did a fantastic job.
“The kids, who are most important of all, settled in really quickly. We did a lot of visits and showed them photographs and it helped prepare them for the transition to the new building.”
For Paul the integration of the two sets of pupils is hugely important.
“This is a unique opportunity for us to develop the knowledge and understanding of what additional support needs is all about.
“We have a whole crop of the Viewforth pupils from S1 to S6 who will have that experience of being around others with additional support needs because we’re very much a part of life in the campus.
“For me inclusion is a two-way thing. It’s not just about Rosslyn pupils going into the campus, but for folks in the campus coming into Rosslyn and that happens.
“We all retain our own identity but we have a focus also on what the community of the campus is all about.
“The parents love it too, we have a very strong parent council, so there’s been nothing but pluses for us.”
Andrew Stokes, programme manager, said the facilities at the campus have been well used.
He said: “There were 65 participants taking part in a summer camp, and there was a disability inclusion group.
“In the first year over 14,000 books were borrowed and there were 5000 community use attendances.
“We have 19 sports clubs using the facilities, including the archery club that was formerly at Cluny Clays, and Raith Rovers Ladies use it as their home and we’ve done it all within the existing staffing budget.”
Annette Mizerny, customer service team leader, paid tribute to the staff.
“We now offer more and for longer,” she said, “for example on a Saturday morning the library is open and there are things for families like arts and crafts.
“The numbers are steadily growing, people are saying it’s great and more and more are coming along and none of this would happen without the staff. Their goodwill, energy and enthusiasm has got us to where we are.”
Andrew said the campus will serve as the blueprint for future council projects.
“Due to the financial position that the local authority is in, the future for us is very much consolidation and integration but when you’re doing that, you’re not only making financial savings, you’re actually delivering better services to the customers and making that sustainable,” he said.
“The council has made a decision that, where appropriate, it will never build single-service assets in the future.
“We’ll always look to collapse in as many services as we can, for the very reasons and benefits the Windmill Campus has shown.”
Cllr Neil Crooks, chairman of Kirkcaldy Area Committee, said much has been achieved at Windmill but there are big challenges ahead.
“We need these facilities open when the public want them and that is more often than not at evenings and weekends,” he said. “We need to see the formation of a community liaison group which can scrutinise and add value to the work of the board.
“That should be made up of local user groups, people from the wider community and local councillors, and especially young people as it’s their future that is being shaped.
“I want to thank all of the staff at Windmill for their perseverance and support and thank all of the groups who have hired the facilities up to now.
“The next 12 months needs to continue to unpick established ways of using facilities to make them more accessible and affordable than ever and its great to be part of that journey.”