Dun­beg school al­ready close to full

The Oban Times - - Front Page -

DUN­BEG Pri­mary School is closer to ca­pac­ity than coun­cil fig­ures sug­gest, lead­ing to ques­tions over how it can cope with the in­flux of new houses in the Dun­beg mas­ter­plan, writes Sandy Neil.

The ‘state­ment of in­tent’, ap­proved in April, en­vi­sions 300 new homes built be­tween 2017 and 2022 in the first phase, and 605 over­all be­yond 2022.

In a door-to-door cam­paign, Dun­beg res­i­dents called for a new, big­ger school, as well as safer ac­cess at the ‘dan­ger­ous’ A85 junc­tion and an up­graded Kirk Road be­fore another brick is laid, re­it­er­ated at Dun­beg Com­mu­nity Coun­cil on Mon­day evening.

‘The school needs to be ad­dressed now. No­body could give us the num­bers,’ said chair­man Sean MacIn­tyre, who is plan­ning a new pe­ti­tion to get the coun­cil ‘to take our con­cerns se­ri­ously’.

‘He con­tin­ued: ‘Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil are not lis­ten­ing. They are just hand-pick­ing what they want for the houses to get through.’

When the Dun­beg mas­ter­plan was unan­i­mously ap­proved, coun­cil­lors heard the ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment was sat­is­fied it could ac­com­mo­date new chil­dren at the ex­ist­ing school, and there would ‘not be an is­sue for child spa­ces’.

Ac­cord­ing to coun­cil fig­ures, which we pub­lished last week, Dun­beg Pri­mary was just un­der half empty, with a role of 78 pupils, and a ca­pac­ity of 141.

But The Oban Times un­der­stands Dun­beg Pri­mary’s ac­tual role, in­clud­ing the nurs­ery, cur­rently stands at 90 pupils – with num­bers due to ex­pand to 98 this Au­gust.

More­over, we also un­der­stand the school’s ca­pac­ity is only 116 pupils, rather than 141. This means in Au­gust, be­fore any of the 300 houses are built, the school is al­ready close to ca­pac­ity, with space for only 18 more chil­dren.

The coun­cil later cor­rected its state­ment, say­ing the school in­deed has 90 pupils, but it con­firmed there was still room for 141 – a ca­pac­ity un­known at the school, leav­ing ques­tions, how will it ac­com­mo­date the ex­tra 25 pupils, and how is ca­pac­ity are cal­cu­lated?

The ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment said in the mas­ter­plan re­port: ‘In the short term, the mod­est level of pop­u­la­tion growth in the Dun­beg catch­ment area will be ad­dressed by en­sur­ing there is pro­vi­sion in the ex­ist­ing pri­mary school. The ex­ist­ing ca­pac­ity, of which there is some, will be aug­mented by pri­ori­tis­ing catch­ment pupils over plac­ing re­quests and re­mod­elling the in­side of the school. In the medium term, with the fur­ther de­vel­op­ment of 300 homes, con­sid­er­a­tion will be given to any iden­ti­fied re­quire­ment to in­crease the cur­rent school ca­pac­ity. This may in­clude al­lo­ca­tion of ex­ist­ing cap­i­tal bud­get re­source.’

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