It was a major blow for local families in Clarkston when the Scottish Government decided against allocating funds to replace Carolside Primary School towards the tail end of last year.
East Renfrewshire Council has correctly designated Carolside as the local school with the highest priority for replacement and applied for funding to take forward this work through phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s Learning Estate Investment Programme (LEIP).
The existing Carolside Primary is in a state of disrepair and a new school facility is required to ensure local children in Clarkston can again be educated in a building that is fit for purpose.
The Scottish Government publishes an annual school estates statistics survey where the condition and suitability of all local authority primary and secondary schools in Scotland are graded.
Condition refers to the existing state of a school’s fabric including general health and safety requirements.
Suitability is a benchmark concerning if a school is fit for purpose in delivering the education curriculum and is designed to examine a range of factors including whether the building and grounds assist with the provision of a quality learning and teaching environment.
On each measurement, a school receives one of the four following grades: (a) good; (b) satisfactory; (c) poor; and (d) bad.
In the most recent annual publication of September 2023, Carolside has been rated as poor on both condition and suitability and this means that the school building and grounds have major deficiencies.
The unacceptable condition and suitability of Carolside Primary makes clear that the school is in serious need of replacement.
Considering this background, I am dismayed that the Scottish Government did not award the appropriate financial support to establish a new primary school in Clarkston.
As the local MSP, I made formal representation to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills to express my frustration and to seek an explanation of why the council’s bid was rejected.
The Education Secretary’s response included a critique of the UK Government and previous budgetary decisions made in Westminster.
Notwithstanding the fact that operational decision-making on Education matters is fully devolved, the UK Government is continuing to deliver record levels of block grant funding to the Scottish Government.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Education Secretary failed to mention that over the course of the existing five-year parliamentary term, the Scottish Government is set to squander £2.7 billion of public money including on overbudget ferries and SNP pet projects such as a rebrand of social care.
To criticize the UK Government and seek to divert the blame for their own decision-making in response to an enquiry on a serous local schools issue is simply pathetic from the SNP.
The need to replace Carolside Primary so families in Clarkston, whose children are currently pupils or are expected to attend in future years, can have a local school that is fit for purpose is a priority education issue for me and East Renfrewshire Council.
Patently, it is not a priority for the SNP Government and this is why the funding has not been awarded.