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School roll forecast highlights capacity issues

By David Porter

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Crucial work to increase primary school provision in Balmedie is now a matter of urgency councillors will hear this week.

School roll forecasts show that Balmedie Primary School is set to go considerably over capacity in the next four years.
School roll forecasts show that Balmedie Primary School is set to go considerably over capacity in the next four years.

A paper which will be presented to members of the Education Committee on Thursday shows a total of 19 schools in Aberdeenshire are set to go over capacity by 2024.

The report shows that Meldrum, Kemnay, Inverurie, Portlethen and Mearns academies will be among those above capacity in four years time.

Meldrum Academy is currently over capacity with a current school roll of 989 against a capacity of 980 and is predicted to rise to 1037.

Kemnay Academy also faces a significant increase on the current roll of 941, which is already above the 700 capacity and which is also expected to reach 1037 by 2024.

Temporary units at Kemnay Academy mean the school currently has a working capacity of 950.

Principal concerns in the Formartine area are focused on Balmedie, Cultercullen and Foveran.

Balmedie Primary roll is currently 484 and is set to rise to 571 and the report notes: “Officers have been monitoring the roll at Balmedie School for several years.

“It is accepted that additional primary school capacity will be required within the Balmedie catchment area, although the most appropriate solution for this is still being determined.”

Cultercullen school would potentially rise from 75 to 92, which is partially to be dealt with by relocating non-school staff using facilities on site to another location.

Foveran school is slowly rising and concern is expressed on the build out of any housing brought forward at the Menie estate which would be monitored.

The same meeting will also see councillors asked to agree that the council take steps to develop its own school counselling provision.

This would be done by funding one school counsellor senior practitioner and 12 school counsellors.

The move comes after the Scottish Government provided funding as part of a nationwide plan to create around 350 new counsellor positions in schools.

Aberdeenshire Council was allocated £574,000 for 2019-20 and a further commitment of £774,000 per year for the next three years to create new posts.

But a report to members of the committee states there will be: “insufficient numbers of suitably qualified and experienced candidates”.

It adds: “Aberdeenshire Council will address this shortfall by commissioning an external provider to support trainee counsellors through an accredited counselling diploma course.”

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