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Nursery and Primary School Estate Review discussed by committee


The future of Aberdeen's Nursery and Primary School Estate has been discussed at a special meeting of the Education, Culture and Sport Committee today [Thursday 07 February].

The report detailed a range of proposals for the provision of education in the city over the next 20 to 25 years which take into account significant educational changes, demographics and the future growth of the city in line with the recent adoption of the Aberdeen Local Development Plan.

Following a debate which included deputations from Middleton Park Parent Council and St Peter's RC Primary Friends Association the committee agreed the following:

* to note the comments raised in submissions from stakeholders during the recent informal engagement process on the Nursery Primary School Estate and technical information on various aspects of the existing nursery and primary school estate;
* agreed recommendations 1 to 58 which include indicative cost implications and proposed timescales for implementation;
* agreed principles for future management of Nursery and Primary educational provision in recommendations 59 to 64 and;
* instruct officers to facilitate the next steps in progressing accepted recommendations, including where necessary, statutory  consultation.

The committee also agreed to ask officers to report back to a future Education, Culture and Sport Committee on the following:

* to request that officers would report back to this committee on Gaelic provision in the city;
* to instruct officers to advise Aberdeenshire Council that the Blairs development of 280 houses plus a potential further 44 will not be zoned to Cults Academy;
* to instruct officers to carry out statutory consultation regarding the rezoning of Hanover Street Primary School from St Machar Academy to Harlaw Academy.

The committee agreed in principal to recommendation 59) that no new or replacement school would be designed to accommodate fewer than two or more than three streams of pupils.

The committee also agreed that nursery provision should be incorporated into all primary schools where possible and requirements of Scottish Government legislation under Children's Services Bill, if enacted, are implemented as soon as practicable.

Recommendation 61) was agreed in principle by the committee – that a re-evaluation of primary school capacities should be implemented to take account of changes in local and national government policies on maximum class sizes.

The committee agreed in principal to recommendation 62) that, where appropriate, roll capping in primary schools should be considered. This may have implications for out-of-zone placing requests.

The committee also agreed in principle to recommendation 63) that a programme to improve external play and learning opportunities in all schools should be instigated.

The committee agreed recommendation 64) that an ongoing engagement with Learning and Leisure of Aberdeenshire Council should be enhanced so that mutual understanding of likely policy decisions is developed at an early stage.

Aberdeen City Council's Convener of Education, Culture and Sport Committee Councillor Jenny Laing said: "The decisions taken by the committee today enable us to move forward with our commitment to do everything we can to provide the best possible education for this and future generations.

"We want to assure parents, guardians, school staff and indeed pupils that we will work together in a robust and transparent manner so that we can continue to do our very best for the educational needs of all children in the city."

Vice-convener of Education, Culture and Sport Committee Councillor Ross Thomson added: "I am pleased with the outcome of today's debate. It is vital that we do what is in the educational interests of all pupils across the city.

"Today is not a final decision, rather today marks the beginning of a comprehensive consultation process involving parents, pupils, teachers and independent organisations so that we ensure that any decision is absolutely right educationally for each and every child in Aberdeen.

"I hope that communities will actively engage in that process so that we can build a school estate that is fit to take on the modern challenges of the 21st century."

An informal public engagement on the Review of Nursery and Primary School Estate was carried out last year.

The report focuses on mainstream nursery and primary school provision. Specific provision for children with Additional Special Needs (ASN) will be addressed as part of the city-wide review of inclusion.