Investment in Aberdeenshire schools confirmed
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The funding and timeframe for proposed investment in school buildings in Fraserburgh and Stonehaven has been confirmed today (Thursday) after councillors agreed to prioritise funding and add the projects to the Capital Plan for completion in 2025 at their meeting of Full Council.
The goal is to continue to invest in the local authority’s learning estate in a way that maximises benefits for children and young people, both now and for future generations.
The scope of the proposal for Stonehaven has been extended to include Carronhill School.
The idea is that Carronhill could enjoy a new building alongside Dunnottar Primary, potentially in the grounds of Mackie Academy, and all three schools would retain their own identity and head teachers.
In Fraserburgh, the proposal is to replace St Andrew’s Primary School and Fraserburgh North School with one brand new school both would merge into.
Provost and full council chair councillor Bill Howatson explained: “Making Carronhill part of the proposed new development would enable us to deliver new state-of-the-art, fully accessible, inclusive facilities in a similar way to our other schools that support children and young people with complex additional needs.
“Bringing the schools together in Fraserburgh will give us a chance to provide the very best facilities under one roof.
“Continuing to invest in our learning estate is our priority for the council, noting the hugely positive feedback from families, young people and staff benefiting from our new facilities elsewhere in Aberdeenshire.
"Please rest assured that local communities will always have a lead role in shaping proposals and we are still at a very early stage in these developments.”
Councillors are already taking note of the apprehension voiced by some groups in the Stonehaven area.
While it is correct that Mackie Academy would not be replaced as part of these proposals, it doesn’t mean this won’t be possible in years to come. Access to playing fields on this site for the wider community would be retained, and it is hoped the new development would make access easier – by way of new car parking and walking routes.
The guiding principles of Scotland’s Learning Estate Strategy can be viewed online: https://www.gov.scot/publications/scotlands-learning-estate-strategy-connecting-people-places-learning/pages/5/
Aberdeenshire Council's Learning Estates team is recognised nationally for their first-class approach to delivering new schools.
They developed the Aberdeenshire Primary Design Brief in 2012, drawing from best practice around the world and feedback from school staff and pupils. This has been updated twice since, following evaluation of newly delivered schools, lessons learned from projects and evolving education practice.
Deputy Provost councillor Ron McKail added: “Discussions with parents began recently as part of a long-term engagement process.
"We are committed to ensuring all stakeholders have opportunities to learn more about proposals and provide feedback to shape plans as matters progress.
“We know sometimes communities have differing views and that’s ok; it’s our job to assess and balance all feedback.
"But I would say our Learning Estates team is second-to-none and I would urge you to engage fully with them and contribute to supporting the best possible outcomes for our children and young people.”
Proposals cannot be taken forward without full and extensive consultation with local families, and considerable further scrutiny by elected members.
Further details of how to participate in the discussion will be shared locally in the months ahead.