Viewforth to close. New secondary to be built

PARENTS, pupils, politicians and community members have welcomed the news that ailing Viewforth High in Kirkcaldy could be replaced with a brand new school.

And they are appealing to education chiefs to put the project to the top of the priority list of school's in Fife.

A proposed blueprint for the future of Fife's secondary schools recommends that the school, which has served the east of Kirkcaldy and Dysart for almost a century, be closed because of falling pupil numbers and the deteriorating condition of the buildings.

It would be replaced by a new school to be built in the south east of Kirkcaldy with capacity to serve the expected rise in population from additional housing planned for the area.

The proposals are contained in a 10-point plan mapping the future of secondary school provision in Fife for the 21st century. It was due to be debated at Fife Council's Children's Services Committee yesterday (Thursday).

The report is the latest in a series of presentations forming Fife's School Estate Strategy to assess current and future demand for school places, as well as plans to improve the learning environment for pupils and teachers.

In the report on Viewforth High School the overall condition and suitability of the school is described as "poor", and the school roll over the last decade has remained consistently lower than the building's 640 pupil capacity, with 420 pupils currently attending.

On the other hand Balwearie High School in the west of the town has a roll of 1725 pupils, with a maximum capacity of 1650.

Projected catchment figures for Viewforth taking into account expected house building in the east of the town over the next 10 years show an increase of up to 737 pupils, with a 20 year projection of nearer 800 pupils.

Speaking before Thursday's meeting, councillor for the area John Cameron described the proposals as "an opportunity to completely revitalise the area."

"It would be great to have a new school – it would maybe stop pupils haemorrhaging from Dysart and Sinclairtown primary schools to Balwearie High."

He said he would be pressing for it to be taken forward as a priority.

His comments were backed by Kirkcaldy MSP Marilyn Livingstone who has supported Viewforth High School Association over the years.

"If this is passed it will be great news for the whole of Kirkcaldy, not just the east," she said. "As well as giving the area a new school it would relieve the pressure on Kirkcaldy and Balwearie's numbers.

"It would also be very important that there was a smooth transition from the current school to any new building with consultation with staff, pupils and the local community.

"Viewforth remains an excellent school with dedicated staff who are committed to providing the best for pupils and I am confident the continued investment in the school will allow the good work to continue."

Martin Nicholson, chairman of Viewforth High School Board said: "All the members are pleased to see the proposal for a new school. This will provide the much needed education and recreation facilities for which our Boards have campaigned over the past 16 years.

"We were initially concerned about the term 'closure' regarding Viewforth, but, having spoken with senior managers within education, they assured us that we are all still working to the same objective of maintaining the quality of education being achieved within the school, whilst working towards a seamless transition for the proposed closure and the opening of the proposed new school.

"We would ask all parents, pupils and staff to continue to work with us towards this aim. We also welcome the support given by our local councillors and MSP.

"In the meantime, we look forward to the immediate improvements being undertaken in the school to boost the learning environment, until the new school is completed."