Schools in Inverness face a cap on pupil numbers in the New Year as the city’s rapid growth threatens to leave classrooms bursting at the scenes.
Plans for a new primary at Ness Castle are being brought forward and a second Gaelic medium primary will be required in the near future as the language gains in popularity.
Councillors will discuss the issues facing schools across the Highland capital at a meeting of the education, children and adult services committee tomorrow.
Members will be asked to approve proposals to carry out further studies into school rolls.
Extensions will also be considered for some sites, but committee chairman Alastair Christie said this would be weighed up against whether other facilities, such as dining halls and toilets, could cope with extra pupils.
Last night Mr Christie said: “We’re seeing massive pressure for places in certain parts of Inverness.
“Where the simple answer may be to add on extra classrooms to accommodate extra pupils, that’s not always the best answer.
“That doesn’t take into account the rest of the non-teaching space in schools like dining halls and toilets. We’ve got to consider the overall package and that’s what we will do.”
Education chiefs say pressures on space have been exacerbated by house building in the south of the city in the past decade, which has brought a rapid influx of families to the area.
In recent years, the council has been forced into extending a number of new primaries following dramatic increases in pupil numbers.
Milton of Leys Primary opened in 2011 with the aim of easing overcrowding at Inshes Primary. However, the new building has already acquired an extension, with three extra classrooms built to deal with the expanding roll.
The Gaelic school, built in 2007, has also been extended.
Councillor Ken Gowans, who has raised concerns about school capacities in the past, said: “I think that the problems have come some time in the past from underestimating just how quickly Inverness is expanding in certain areas. Failing to anticipate that has meant infrastructure is struggling to cope, especially schools.
“If you take Milton of Leys as an example then the population in that school area has risen by something like 520% between censuses and that really wasn’t planned for.
“It calls for a much longer-term approach to planning for expansion.
“The measures put forward in this report will go someway to addressing the issues but we need to start thinking long-term because there are plans for a lot more houses and we need to be ready for that.”
David McGrath, chairman of Smithton and Culloden Community Council, said: “It’s definitely something that’s been brought to our community council.
“There have been changes to the number of classrooms at Duncan Forbes School in Culloden and at Smithton, as well as Culloden Academy already.
“I’d say there needs to be a proper plan in place and new schools built where they are needed, instead of this tinkering around the edges.”