Highland Council give approval for £1.5 million of funding for improvements to north Skye school

Photo credit: Willie Urquhart

Highland councillors have approved capital funding for school improvements that will see £1.5 million spent on Dunvegan Primary School in north Skye.

The money will come directly from the Highland Council but is part of a Scottish Government initiative to almost double the number of hours available to parents through the early learning and childcare expansion programme.

This programme of around £37 million is due to be completed for all qualifying schools in the Highlands by August of next year. A total of 10 primary schools in Skye, Lochalsh and Wester Ross are in line for funding, some of which will be provided by the Scottish Government.

As far as Dunvegan is concerned, the £1.5 million – the joint second largest ELC investment in the Highlands – will see a new nursery, kitchen, dining area, games hall, and the “demolition of some poor quality buildings.”

Although the council’s main capital programme will not be announced until September, Dunvegan parent council is delighted that the primary school is finally to benefit from some much-needed investment.

Parent council member and former chairman Elgar Finlay said: “It is huge for the beginning of a new school at Dunvegan and demonstrates the Highland Council are stepping up and making good on their promises. This is a really exciting time for the future of Dunvegan.”

A report on the programme, authored by Robert Campbell, estate strategy manager, said there was an “urgent requirement for investment to provide significant additional capacity” at Dunvegan to ensure that it is able to offer the expanded ELC service “as close to time as possible.”

However, elsewhere in his report, Mr Campbell states that the rebuilding works “would not be completed by August 2020” and that “interim measures” would be put in place to ensure ELC compliance by that date.

The other local primary schools in line for ELC investment are: Auchtertyre (£100,000), Broadford (£100,000), Gairloch (£350,000), Kyle (£550,000) Lochcarron (£500,000), Portree (£250,000) and Shieldaig (£40,000).

Ullapool primary has been allocated £1 million for a nursery extension linked to the school and the contract has already been awarded for that work. Council representatives are due to meet parents in the Sleat next week to discuss the best way forward for Bun-Sgoil Shleite. In Mr Campbell’s report, no funding has been earmarked for Sleat, but he states that the work there is a “combined refurbishment and extension works with ELC; scope to be agreed.”

Local councillor John Finlayson said that given Highland Council has received the third highest allocation in Scotland to support ELC expansion (£32.59 million) it is “good to see the progress” that has been made to date and also the plans for future investment, including funding for many schools on Skye.

Article by Mike Russell.