What Next for Stonehaven’s Schools?

By bellmannews / November 2, 2023
The familiar Victorian frontage of Dunnottar Primary

A FAILED bid for Scottish Governement funding towards the replacement of Carronhill and Dunnottar Primary School, leaves our local authority searching for plan B.

What money did we not get?

Back in 2019 Holyrood announced a £2bn Learning Estate Investment Programme aimed at raising the standard of Scottish schools through both new builds and upgrades.

In this scheme, local authorities pay up front to deliver state of the art school buildings – but get 50% back from the Scottish Government over the following 25 years.

The first phase of funding was announced in September 2019 and included funding towards the Peterhead Campus, which has proven the only succussful bid for Aberdeenshire.

Phase two followed in 2020 with 20 projects supported across Scotland.

The Council’s announcement in November 2021 of its intention to provide new premises for Dunnottar and Carronhill was in time for the next phase of the funding programme.

This week, the delayed outcome this third and ‘last significant phase of the LEIP programme,’ was revealed. There were 10 successful projects but these did not include the Stonehaven schools.

Will the schools still be built?

It seems too soon to know how this will affect the local authority’s aspirations for a campus at Mackie Academy.

An Aberdeenshire Council spokesperson said: “We are naturally disappointed that the two school building projects we submitted for funding – one for a new primary at Stonehaven and another at Fraserburgh – were not successful on this occasion.

“The council remains committed to improving and modernising its learning estate.”

Cllr Sarah Dickinson said: ”I am extremely disappointed that Aberdeenshire Council did not receive funding from the third tranche of the Learning Estate Investment Programme (LEIP).

”An absolute link between LEIP funding and the schools progressing was not the case at the time they were added to the capital plan. However, as you will appreciate there has been a significant change in the financial landscape with huge inflation and increases in the cost of borrowing since then for householders and the council, so this potential funding was important.

Ms Dickinson added: ”I have not had discussions with colleagues as yet about the implications of this LEIP decision. I remain completely committed to the delivery of these new schools and will continue to urge they are taken forward.”

MSP looking for support

Mairi Gougeon MSP said: ”I completely understand the need to replace both the Dunnottar and Carronhill schools with a new campus which would better meet the needs of Stonehaven’s children and young people.

”As the MSP for Angus North and Mearns, I will seek to work with both Aberdeenshire Council and the Scottish Government to make Stonehaven’s school estate fit for the future. It is important to note that as a direct result of Scottish Government investment, the proportion of schools in “good” or “satisfactory” condition has increased from 61% in April 2007 to 90.7% in April 2023.

Ms Gougeon added: ”I have written to Aberdeenshire Council’s Chief Executive to ask them to explain what the next steps are for this project. Moreover, I have also asked the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills to clarify what criteria was used to judge each local authority bid for Learning Estate Investment Programme funding, and what the Scottish Government will do going forward to support Aberdeenshire Council to improve Stonehaven’s school estate. I will update you as soon as I receive their responses.”