Cabinet has approved a review of new housing developments within East Ayrshire and the measures in place to assess their impact on school estate capacity.
Following the approval of the School Estate Management Plan in March, Cabinet tasked officers to bring back a report that aligns future housing development with school estate capacity.
The subsequent review addressed a number of issues including how information was gathered to project school pupil roll and looked in detail at areas where house building is ongoing and occupancy levels are high in the local schools. These include Grange, Kilmarnock and Stewarton Academies and their associated primary schools.
The Education Support Service has developed an effective system that uses a range of statistics to project school pupil rolls, which are reported to the Scottish Government annually, and provide a good degree of accuracy.
It was agreed that the Education Support Service would continue to collate these statistics to inform decision-making around school roll projections and that they would continue to work with planning policy colleagues to ensure the most accurate statistics, particularly in relation to new housing developments.
In terms of addressing increasing capacity locally, the review showed that measures have already been introduced, particularly at Grange Campus where placing requests have been reduced and Primary One intake at Annanhill Primary has been reduced from 75 to 60. The measures introduced will assist in mitigating accommodation pressures however further details were also provided on the installation of a two classroom unit that is it is hoped will be onsite and operational by January 2022. Cabinet recognised that house building in these areas will continue and also agreed to a further review of future accommodation requirements within Grange Campus, that would provide a sustainable long-term investment solution and would take account of wider national developments across the whole school estate.
Cabinet also considered the Learning Estate Investment plans. It was agreed that the proposals being prepared for a bid for funding of Phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s Learning Estate Investment Programme, would take into account proposals for future housing developments, particularly in Kilmarnock North West and Stewarton.
Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of the Council said: “Growth and new housing is positive for East Ayrshire and as a Council we need to make sure that we have plans in place for suitable infrastructure. Over the past 10 years, our School Estate Management Plan has focused investment on improving the school estate and has taken account of areas of growth with new build schools, extensions and planned investment including at Crosshouse, Loanhead, Whatriggs, Darvel and Stewarton Academy to ensure that more of our schools operate closer to capacity and provide excellent facilities for our young people.
“We recognise that there are current and future pressures on our schools and action is being taken to address this short term through measures to maximise efficient use of spaces and long term through the School Estate Management Plan on a priority basis, building on opportunities for funding from the Scottish Government and potential developer contributions.”