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Expansion of Aberdeen school into neighbouring building will create space for 150 pupils, council reveals

Councillor Bill Cormie said the former French School in Whitehall Place would be a "great asset" for neighbouring Aberdeen Grammar School.
Councillor Bill Cormie said the former French School in Whitehall Place would be a "great asset" for neighbouring Aberdeen Grammar.

Pupils are expected to begin benefiting from a mothballed building next door to their Aberdeen school by the end of next month.

The council last month announced youngsters at Aberdeen Grammar would soon be learning in the former Lycee Francais d’Aberdeen in Whitehall Place.

Officers have now confirmed the move will make room for another 150 pupils on the rolls of the historic city school, which is close to its capacity.

Staff have put together a plan on how best to make use of the extra space, which local councillor Bill Cormie described as a “great asset” while coronavirus continues to increase the need for children to remain safely spaced apart.

Their new resource will be used for additional space for classrooms, PE and dining  from the end of January, it is understood.

The Total French School , previously teaching the children of French oil and gas workers at the site, merged with Albyn School in 2018.

Concerns were raised over the potential future use of the building as advertising boards were erected as the lease expired on the dormant school earlier this year.

While fenced off from Aberdeen Grammar, it is essentially still within its grounds.

Mr Cormie, a Midstocket and Rosemount councillor, told The P&J: “At long last we know what the former French school will be used for.

“We were happy to hear it was being retained by the council and will provide space for nearly 150 pupils.

“It will be a great asset in the time of Covid, which won’t be going away any time soon.

“The beauty of this is it can provide space for distancing for some time to come as there have been a lot of cases at the Grammar.”

Council officers have advised the facility would ably accommodate the rising number of pupils expected in the coming years.

“Parents have already found difficulty getting younger siblings on to the roll, so this is a satisfactory solution for a great education facility in the city,” Mr Cormie added.

Last month, fellow Rosemount councillor, council co-leader Jenny Laing, said she was “absolutely delighted the building can be fully utilised for the benefit of pupils and staff”.

The cost of running the extra building will be covered by existing budgets.

It is not clear how the recently announced return to home schooling after the Christmas break might impact that target though.

Lib Dem education spokesman on the council, Martin Greig, whose Queen’s Cross ward also sends pupils to Grammar, said: “This extra space will provide welcome room to expand.

“There will be a little more breathing space to accommodate pupils at what is an excellent and popular school.”

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