A £90 million “super campus” serving Dunfermline and west Fife could revolutionise the way secondary, higher and further education is provided.
Education chiefs in the Kingdom revealed further details about the ambitious project before a meeting of councillors on Tuesday.
The Courier has learned plans for a joint learning campus with Fife College on the former Shepherd Offshore site at Duloch will almost certainly be progressed, with members of the education and children’s services committee being asked to approve the submission of a formal proposal to the Scottish Government to secure funding.
Approval is also being sought to progress the purchase of part of the Shepherd Offshore site – next to land which has already been secured by Fife College – and also put together the necessary teams to move forward a planning application.
The project will proceed amid ongoing concerns about the condition of St Columba’s RC High School and Woodmill High School, both of which are facing capacity issues over the coming years and maintenance liabilities of around £9m and £24m respectively.
Carrie Lindsay, education and children’s services executive director, will tell councillors the site selected is the only one large enough to bring together a new Fife College, Woodmill High, St Columba’s RC High and community facilities, while also enabling the two schools to retain their individual identities.
She said: “This project would be the first of its kind in Scotland, acting as a pathfinder for change in the delivery of education across secondary, further and higher education.
“It is envisaged that a learning campus will also provide a digital gateway for learning opportunities across Fife, enabling enhanced learning opportunities, in particular within the senior phase.
“This opportunity to co-locate with the college could enable the creation of a new joint learning provision for students aged 15 and over.
“This would enable young people to access courses, wider experiences and opportunities on a single campus.
“This is more than the schools on their own would be able to provide and is aligned to the Education and Children’s Services Directorate’s ambition to develop learning campuses to drive improved outcomes: attainment; employability skills; and sustained, positive destinations for all young people.
“The ambition would be to develop and deliver ‘one coherent offer’ to young people which highlights the learning packages available to them across school and college and the routes for progression rather than continue to distinguish between the different ways we offer the curriculum at present.”
Councillors will be told the project will require “significant investment” on top of what has been allocated within the council’s capital plan for the replacement of five secondary schools across Fife.
Discussions are ongoing with the Scottish Government, Scottish Futures Trust, Scottish Funding Council and Fife College. Developer contributions will also be needed to fund any increased capacity required.
Four sites have been considered potentially suitable for the provision of a new secondary school – Fife College’s existing site, Shepherd Offshore, Masterton and Pitreavie fields.
However, the college site will only become available when the college has relocated, Masterton is being redeveloped for other uses, and Pitreavie remains an important focal point for sport and recreation activities.
“This leaves the Shepherd Offshore site as the only credible location likely to be available within a reasonable timescale for an additional, new secondary school,” Ms Lindsay states in her report.