Disappointment as Buckie High misses out on rebuild cash
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BUCKIE Community High School (BCHS) has missed out on Scottish Government funding which would have seen a new school constructed.
Moray Council initially put forward bids for both BCHS and Forres Academy as part of the £2 billion Learning Estate Investment Programme (LEIP). The programme is jointly funded by Scottish and local Government and will aim to see the new build school open to pupils by August 2027.
While the council wanted funding to replace both schools – which are below recommended national standards – they were told by the programme to prioritise one school, with Forres Academy chosen as the lead.
While a replacement for BCHS has not been successful on this occasion, the local authority has reassured that it will progress the work surrounding the project.
However, news of the failure to secure funding for BCHS has been met with disappointment by local councillors Sonya Warren and Neil McLennan.
Councillor Warren urged the council not to waver in their commitment to replace BCHS, including building a new swimming pool facility and creating a three to 18 campus.
She said: "The LEIP3 funding announcement was indeed very good news for Forres Academy.
"Given the RAAC situation within their school estate, it is very understandable that there needs to be rapid work done on the replacement school there. However, that does not remove the need for investment in the school estate for Buckie High School.
"Not only is it in poor condition for building, but it is the only school in Moray to be rated C for suitability. There are also capacity issues in the school which are only going to be further exacerbated should planned housing developments in Buckie go ahead.
"There is work ongoing within the council look at a replacement for Buckie High School and I think we need to see some of the details of this fairly soon. It is important that the school is designed to the same standard as other schools in Moray. We need to be given a school with equitable, matching facilities to the other secondary schools in Moray and that includes a new swimming pool and the creation of a three to 18 campus."
Councillor McLennan said the news had left him "very concerned" about what the future holds for BCHS.
He continued: "I am happy for Forres and indeed for Moray that some Scottish Government funding is coming to the area to support Forres Academy.
"However, I remain very concerned for Buckie. I noted last year that Buckie High was the most closed school in the authority following a further day of closure at the school. A new school is urgently needed and we cannot continue to allow children to learn in environs which we all know are not what they should be. Questions remain on the administration as to why Forres and not Buckie.
"More concerning is the fact that I inserted enough capital funding into my budget proposals to allow for the building of a state-of-the-art school for Buckie which included community facilities started in 2024/2025. If councillors had accepted my prudent budget then we would have had a new secondary school in Forres, a new secondary school in Buckie and a balanced budget with less of the financial mess we are in just now.
"My budget was not allowed to be presented something I am tackling with the auditors in terms of failures in best value. I took financial advice around my budget to ensure I presented balanced budget for Moray which dealt with the financial issues inherited but still presented aspirational growth projects which could be achieved for the citizens of Moray.
"I can assure the residents of Buckie my budget this year will include a new state of the art school for Buckie, let us hope this time the administration and other councillors back my proposals to ensure our schools in Moray are fit for the 21st century and our council is financially fit in these challenging times."
Moray Council leader and chair of the education, children’s and leisure services committee, Councillor Kathleen Robertson (Conservative, Forres), said: “While it’s disappointing that the funding bid for Buckie High School has not progressed at this stage we’re committed to progressing with the project and will know more about what that looks like in the new year.
“All Moray’s young people should have access to high-quality, up-to-date learning facilities that we can all be proud of, and as a council we are committed to achieving a learning estate which supports excellence and equity for all.”
Moray MP Douglas Ross, while welcoming the news of funding for Forres, warned that Buckie High could not get left behind.
He continued: "Every pupil in Forres and across Moray deserves to be learning in buildings that are fit for the 21st century.
“That is why the SNP government cannot forget about stumping up the funding for a new secondary school in Buckie as well. The local community are desperate to see plans for a new high school in Buckie come to fruition and I will be continuing to push for this bid to be successful in future rounds of funding from the SNP government.”
Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Karen Adam stressed that Moray Council needed to lay out the details behind its commitment to replace BCHS.
She added: "Significant challenges are being experienced by teachers, students, and staff in Buckie High School.
"Buckie High School falls below the national standards for its structural condition. While Buckie High has missed out on the third round of LEIP funding, I note that Moray Council has committed to progressing with the project of replacing Buckie High School. We need the detail of that without delay.
"Meanwhile, I am liaising with the local councillors and will continue to advocate both within the Scottish Parliament and outwith to resolve the challenges being faced.”