Funding has been made available for a new shared-learning campus that will include a replacement for the Fife secondary that was seriously damaged by fire just days into the new school term last month, Scottish education secretary has confirmed.
The proposed joint-learning campus would bring together pupils, students and staff at Woodmill High, St Columba’s High and Fife College in modern, low-carbon facilities. The new campus could be ready by the end of 2024.
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The estimated cost is between £150 million and £180m. The Scottish government has confirmed it will invest up to £90m in capital to fund the college portion of the campus, and up to 50 per cent of the overall cost for the schools element.
John Swinney today met Woodmill High headteacher Sandy McIntosh, school students that are being accommodated at Fife College, and representatives of Fife College and Fife Council.
The education secretary praised the “tremendous effort” made by the council to find alternative accommodation for the school’s pupils and to minimise the disruption to their learning.
He added: “Since the fire 10 days ago, I accelerated discussions with Fife Council and Fife College, and I am now very pleased to confirm we support the development of a brand-new joint-learning campus.
“Locating the two schools and Fife College on the same site would give pupils easy access to a greater variety of subjects and qualifications.
"Schools, colleges and universities are the cornerstones of our communities and a joint-campus model will give Dunfermline a hub of high-quality, low-carbon and digitally enabled facilities.”
The convener of Fife Council's education and children's services committee, Fay Sinclair, said the announcement would give the Woodmill community reassurance.
She said: “We have already held community-engagement sessions on the future of education provision. This will inform our work with Fife College to bring forward firm proposals for a new development, which the community will be consulted on before plans are finalised."
First minister Nicola Sturgeon announced yesterday in the programme for government that the first wave of schools to be built or refurbished through a new £1bn school-investment programme would be announced later this month.
A priority for that scheme would be working with Fife Council to rebuild Woodmill High, she said.
The fire at the school started on the evening of Sunday 25 August and was extinguished the following morning. No one was injured in the blaze, but Carrie Lindsay, the council's executive director of education and children's services, said "no part of the building" had been "untouched by the fire".
With nearby schools close to capacity, each Woodmill High year group is being educated in a different location, with all of the new arrangements expected to be in place by Friday.
S1 pupils are receiving their lessons at the Vine Conference Centre; S2 pupils have been assigned to Queen Anne High in Dunfermline; S3 are in Beath High; S4 are attending Inverkeithing High; S5 are having their lessons delivered at Fife College; and S6 are at St Columba’s High.
Police arrested a 14-year-old boy in connection with the fire.