A damp, slug-infested island primary where parents say a third of the pupils have been diagnosed with breathing problems could finally be replaced with a brand new campus by 2021.
Highland Council has placed Broadford primary on Skye just behind Tain 3-18 campus in a list of funding priorities to be presented to the Scottish Government this week.
The council will today ask councillors to approve Tain as its priority for consideration for the government’s ‘new schools investment programme’.
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It says its next priority is to secure funding for a new campus at Broadford, a move widely welcomed by campaigners.
The council is also prioritising a replacement for the dilapidated St Clement’s special school in Dingwall, followed by Nairn Academy in a later phase of funding.
At Broadford some children have asthma, and parents believe the ‘sick’ school is making their condition worse. There is also no gym hall or a safe drinking water supply.
The school has limited access for wheelchair users because of the number of steps, pest control has been unable to stop slugs reappearing in the classrooms, and the external doors don’t lock.
Skye MSP Kate Forbes said: “This is tremendously good news for Broadford. This is the first time that Broadford has been prioritised by Highland Council which demonstrates how awful the school building is.
“Parents and children have been waiting a long time, but it feels like the hard work of the last few years is finally paying off.”
Archie Grigor-Taylor, 8, first had breathing problems after starting at Broadford Primary when his family moved to Skye three years ago and his mother says he was previously in good health but has now been diagnosed with childhood asthma.
Tansy Grigor-Taylor said: “You can see the damp crawling up the school walls. You can see the plaster falling.
“No amount of fixing the roof or tidying up a down pipe can solve the problem of a damp building in one of the most exposed school sites in Scotland.”
The council says it has undertaken a programme of ‘corrective action’ to tackle Broadford’s problems in the last 18 months, but recognises the need to replace the primary, nursery and community facilities with a new campus.
At a special meeting today, councillors will be asked to agree to the new campus, also to include library and service point, to be delivered by 2021, using its own capital budget and other funding opportunities – including the government fund.
The authority is nominating Tain 3-18 campus as its priority for inclusion in the Scottish Government’s new schools investment programme, saying it ticks all the boxes the government is looking for.
The report says all Tain schools, including St Duthus special school, will be brought together into a single learning campus offering ‘significant educational benefits’ and will be delivered by 2021.
An initial assessment of potential sites for a replacement for St Clements has been carried out, with further consultation to take place later this year on the location and nature of the new facility. Deputy First Minister John Swinney yesterday visited Nairn Academy, announced by the council as a priority for a funding bid next year.
He said: “I will look with great care at what comes forward from Highland Council as we consider that programme, and obviously this has been a welcome opportunity to see with my own eyes the issues at Nairn Academy.”
Highland Council has previously received £63m from the Scottish Government towards the cost of school projects through the Scotland’s Schools for the Future initiative.