Highland Council Bids For PPP Cash
6 December 2001

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The Highland Council has approved an outline bid for a 120 million Education Public Private Partnership, which it believes will go a long way to tackling the unacceptable condition of many of its schools.  A total of 26 projects have been included in the bid, which will be sent to the Scottish Executive for a decision by the spring of next year.

It is proposed that the 21st Century School Improvement Programme be undertaken between 2005-2010. It is estimated that the programme will attract an estimated 220 million of funding from the Executive over its 30-year life. The net annual cost to the council is likely to rise from 1.3 million to (Pounds)6.5 million by 2010.

Convener David Green said: "Approval of this ambitious programme clearly demonstrates the councils long-term commitment to taking many of our schools from the 19th century right into the 21st century. We have a duty of stewardship over our schools. Far too many pupils are being taught in outdated conditions and we want to move forward by providing a modern learning environment for all. There is no prospect of significantly improving the school building stock without a very large investment programme. The PPP route is the only way forward to begin to tackle current building problems on a much larger and strategic basis than at present."

Bruce Robertson, Director of Education, told a special meeting of the council that the plans represented the most far-reaching programme of spending tabled before the council. With approximately one-third of the Councils network of 220 schools in sub-standard accommodation, huge investment was required. Due to the scale of the proposed building programme, it would require to be phased over five years.  He said the package was "very appealing" in that it addressed the need for new provision in the Inshes area of Inverness; it addressed long-standing improvements to primary and secondary schools; it offered an innovative approach to special needs education and it met the priority given nationally to Gaelic Medium Education.

Secondary schools in line for major spending are Dingwall Academy, Farr High School, Bettyhill, Millburn Academy, Inverness, and Portree High School,  Also proposed is the construction of a new school for pupils with special educational needs in Inverness; a new primary school in Inverness and a school for Gaelic Medium pupils in Inverness. Other primary upgradings and
replacements are also being proposed.  He said in many cases, there were plans to include expanded community
facilities in schools, such as Dingwall Academy, Millburn Academy, Inverness, and Portree High.

The schools which will be included in the bid are: -
Badenoch and Strathspey: Deshar Primary, Boat of Garten.
Caithness: Bower Primary.
Inverness: Gaelic School, Inverness; Inverness New Primary School; Inverness
Special Education Needs; Millburn Academy; Teanassie (if amalgamation goes
ahead with Tomnacross).
Lochaber: Acharacle Primary; Greater Fort William - Gaelic; Greater Fort
William Special Needs; Lochaline Primary; Kinlochleven Primary; Kinlochleven
Secondary; Mallaig Hostel.
Nairn: Cawdor.
Ross and Cromarty: Culbokie Primary; Cullicudden Primary (if amalgamated with
Newhall Primary); Dingwall Academy; Maryburgh Primary; Newhall Primary; (if
amalgamated with Cullicudden); Newmore Primary; St Clements SEN (with Dingwall
Skye and Lochalsh: Plockton Primary; Portree High School; Uig Primary.
Sutherland: Farr Primary (Bettyhill); Farr High School.

It was agreed that projects at Cromarty Primary, Roybridge Primary, and St Duthus Special Education Needs Unit, Tain, should be referred to the Councils education capital programme.  Those schools which fell below the affordability break point were: Aviemore Primary; Bridgend Primary, Alness; Grantown Grammar; Wick High; Lochaber High and Tain Royal Academy and should be considered in a future education capital programme or for inclusion within the PPP2 programme if any projects above the affordability line did not take place for any reason.