'Prudential' Glasgow axes 14 primaries

3rd October 2003 at 01:00
Glasgow will lose around 14 primaries after it announced its first effort at tackling empty, rundown buildings. But it will still take more than a decade for the city to match its decimated rolls with fit-for-purpose buildings.

One primary school, St Julie's in Castlemilk, had no first-year intake this session and has a roll of just 59.

The authority plans to invest pound;55 million over the next two years in 10 new primaries on the model of its pilot 0-12 schools but without venturing down the public private partnership (PPP) route which financed the refurbishment of its 29 secondaries.

Stephen Purcell, Glasgow's education convener, did not rule out returning to the PPP option to tackle the enormous over-provision in the primary sector but is backing a package of funding which includes the new "prudential borrowing" system supported by the Scottish Executive.

This means the city can borrow pound;22 million based on savings from its rationalisation programme. A further pound;23 million is coming from the council's capital fund and pound;10 million from sales of land on which the primaries are situated. Mr Purcell stressed that parents and communities were happy to trade existing schools for new buildings when the exercise was not based on savings.

The new package adds to the pound;25.6 million pilot project on creating pre-12 education buildings which can include nurseries and special educational needs bases.

Thirty years ago the city had 220,000 primary pupils and 212 schools. Today there are only 41,000 primary pupils but 197 buildings. The sector continues to lose 700-1,000 pupils a year.

Mr Purcell said some primaries were forced to run triple composite classes which he described as "unviable and unacceptable". Many communities had moved away from their local schools and many buildings were unfit for today's education.

He said that the package was about "relocating, reinvesting and regenerating".

Eleven consultation exercises involving 25 primaries, 11 nurseries and two special education facilities will be announced shortly with final decisions taken in the new year.

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