The shared campus schools in North Lanarkshire, which provoked huge controversy when they were proposed four years ago, have been praised in a new report for bringing social and educational benefits.
The Roman Catholic Church insisted on changes to design plans, when the seven joint campus primaries were mooted as part of the council's public private partnership school building programme. It argued that separate entrances, staffrooms and offices were essential to preserve the separate Catholic ethos and identity.
This week, an evaluation report found that the autonomy and identity of the individual schools on the campuses had been preserved and protected.
"In the Roman Catholic schools, the shared campus context did not create difficulty in implementing the Catholic Education Commission's Charter for Catholic schools," it said.
The report to the authority's learning and leisure services committee found that the partnership between schools on campus management issues had developed effectively and in some instances, liaison and collaboration in a wide range of other areas of mutual interest had also emerged.
"The arrangements for access to shared facilities have been implemen-ted effectively. Heads reported additional complexities associated with the manage-ment of a shared campus school, but highlighted the benefits of the support available from close colleagues," said Murdo Maciver, head of educational provision.
"Most pupils are positive about their new environment, including the facilities and the mixing with pupils from another school. Few instances of disagreement or conflict associated with sharing were reported."
Positive comments from parents outweighed the negative by almost two to one. The positive related to the improved interaction among children and better understanding between communities; the negative related to physical design issues, including size, traffic and shared facility areas. There were criticisms of the open-plan design of teaching areas and the adequacy of shared facilities. Most shared schools would have preferred adjacent rather than physically separate staffrooms.