New school plan gets the green light

Left to right, John Hopkins, depute headteacher at Kirkland High School, Cllr Bryan Poole, David McLure, headteacher, Buckhaven High School.
Left to right, John Hopkins, depute headteacher at Kirkland High School, Cllr Bryan Poole, David McLure, headteacher, Buckhaven High School.

THE announcement that both Kirkland and Buckhaven High Schools are to merge has been greeted with both joy and caution by community members.

The Scottish Government has announced that Fife Council will be given the funding needed to build a new school, likely to be near to the current Buckhaven building.

It’s expected that construction work may start within the next 12-18 months, after Fife was awarded the money under the Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme.

MSP David Torrance said: “I welcome the announcement by the Scottish Government to fund the new school for Kirkland and Buckhaven pupils, which will help deliver the curriculum for excellence.”

“However, I hope Fife Council has properly consulted with staff, pupils and parents now the funding has been put in place.”

The council’s head of education, Bryan Kirkaldy, told the Mail the development was still at the “early stages”.

He added the authority would consult with pupils, parents, school staff and the wider community throughout the process to keep them fully informed and involved.

In response to some concerns that had been raised about the suitability of the ground, because of former mining work across the area, Mr Kirkaldy said site investigations would be carried out as part of the on-going process.

Local MP Lindsay Roy, himself a former secondary school rector, welcomed the announcement.

He said: “This is long overdue and it will greatly enhance both the quality of accommodation and learning opportunities for the Levenmouth community.

“The area deserves this kind of investment and I am sure the new school will continue to cater just as effectively for the needs of pupils as Buckhaven and Kirkland have done for so many years.

“In addition, there is the real hope that modern, state-of-the-art facilities will help young people be properly equipped to get into the local job market.”

The £1.25 billion Scotland’s Schools for the Future Programme will see the construction of 67 new schools for over 46,000 pupils across Scotland by March 2018.

Although the plan has been met with a general air of positivity, some readers, posting on the Mail’s Facebook page, suggested rivalries between school pupils may pose a problem.

One reader, Tracy Sherwin, added she believed pupils themselves should have been consulted before the plan was put in place, while Charlotte Braden was concerned about the scale of the proposal, fearing some pupils may get “lost in the system”.

But another, Stewart Kirkwood, added: “Great idea, the Kirkland building is a bit of a mess, as for the rivalry, nonsense, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue when it’s all one school.”

Councillor Bryan Poole, executive spokesperson for education, children, young people and families, said the new school plan was “great news” for Levenmouth and for the young people who will benefit from a brand new state of the art facility, the staff who will have a new working environment, and also the wider community.

Cllr Poole added: “Both Buckhaven and Kirkland High Schools already do a great job for local youngsters, achieving excellent results despite working in buildings constructed some time ago when teaching and learning needs were different.

“The Scottish Government funding means we have the opportunity to create a state of the art facility to enhance learning opportunities and inspire future generations.”

Vice-chair of the Levenmouth area committee, Cllr David Graham, added the new school will be a “great opportunity” for the young people of Levenmouth to learn in a state of the art facility which shall be designed for learning in the 21st century.

Fellow area committee member, Cllr David Alexander, said he was “delighted” with the plan.

Not the end of the road for Kirkland

THE merging of Buckhaven and Kirkland High Schools presents a fantastic opportunity to provide young people with the training needed to enter the renewables sector.

That’s according to two of the area’s elected politicians, who say the soon-to-be redundant Kirkland High School can be used as a training base for the industry.

Councillor David Alexander and David Torrance MSP told the Mail, after confirmation was received on the merger, that it was vital Kirkland was put to good use.

Cllr Alexander said: “One aspect to this is Kirkland will go off Fife Council’s books and my preference would be for us to up the training for the renewable sector there, if that can be possible.

“It can’t be done from education’s budget but maybe our colleges can get together and offer training.

“We have the lecture spaces all ready to go down there.”

His sentiments were echoed by Mr Torrance, who said Kirkland could offer an “excellent training facility.”

He added: “I know they’re struggling for land elsewhere so it would be great for the people of Levenmouth to be given the skills they need at somewhere like Kirkland, if we could get some colleges on board.”