Last night (3 September) Deputy First Minister John Swinney met with parents from Broadford Primary School to talk about their aspirations for Highland Council to build a new primary school building.
The local parent council for the 93-pupil school in the south of Skye has been campaigning for years to build a new primary school in the community, which would hopefully see improvements to the gym hall, disability access and the condition of the classrooms.
The Cabinet Secretary for Education had been at the official opening of Portree Gaelic Primary School earlier in the day, and agreed to stop on his way home via the A87 as an extra meeting to meet personally with parents.
During the 30 minutes, Mr Swinney heard first-hand from parents how their children’s learning had been impacted by the current state of the facilities, and also about their campaign for a new school.
Kate Forbes MSP, who was also present, said: “I won’t be satisfied until we have a new school in Broadford – or, for that matter, in Dunvegan. I’ve been clear that the current school buildings are long overdue an extensive upgrade and nothing less than a new building is good enough.
“That is why I am working closely with parents of Broadford Primary pupils and local councillor John Finlayson and why I invited the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney to meet with parents.
“The way in which we secure funding is to ensure that Broadford Primary School is on Highland Council’s list of priority schools and forms part of either their capital budget or their application to Scottish Government programs of funding.
“It is local authorities, which in this case is Highland Council, who have the statutory responsibility for the school estate. They are given an annual capital budget to do that, which takes into account the number of school buildings.
“Despite that, the Scottish Government has invested billions of pounds in school buildings over the last few years. That funding has been available for Highland Council to apply to, but it rests with the local authority to identify the priority schools and to make an application for a number of funding sources.
“For example, in the last few months, local authorities collectively requested a sum of funds to expand nursery and childcare provision which the Scottish Government has covered in full. There has also been capital funding for Gaelic education, and later this year John Swinney will outline a further investment program in the school estate.
“These are sources of funding but the hard work is still to be done to get Broadford on Highland Council’s list of priority schools and the upfront preparation work of planning and design.”
Earlier this year in a letter to Ms Forbes, the Deputy First Minister said he was “extremely disappointed that despite being the second highest beneficiary from the Schools for the Future programme, the Highland Council still has the worst condition school estate in Scotland”.
Highland Council has received £63m towards the cost of school projects through the Scottish Government’s Scotland’s Schools for the Future initiative.