On Thursday 28th September I spoke in the Scottish Parliament seeking assurances from the Scottish Government about the development of Dumfries Learning Town. This is a project I worked closely on at Dumfries and Galloway Council and continue to push as an MSP. You can watch or read my question to the Government below:
11. Colin Smyth (South Scotland) (Lab):
To ask the Scottish Government what plans it has to provide additional funding for the schools for the future programme to allow phase 2 of the Dumfries learning town project to go ahead. (S5O-01295)
The Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills (John Swinney):
Through the £1.8 billion Scotland’s schools for the future programme, Dumfries and Galloway Council has been awarded significant funding of £24.5 million for the north-west campus and St Joseph’s college, which form part of the Dumfries learning town project, and Dalbeattie high school.
We recognise that there is more work to be done on the school estate, which is why we will introduce new proposals to build on the success of the programme. Options are being developed and we will announce details later this year.
The projects that the cabinet secretary has mentioned-the new north-west campus and Dalbeattie high school-are part of phase 1 of that project. Phase 2 proposes a new Dumfries high school, the refurbishment of Dumfries academy and new Loreburn, Laurieknowe and Noblehill primaries, not to mention innovative work that will take place with partners in business and further and higher education to make Dumfries truly the learning town. Does the cabinet secretary agree that the project will transform education in Dumfries, and will he ensure that phase 2 becomes a reality by making it a priority for future Government funding?
I am very familiar with the issues. I visited Dumfries high school just the other week, and I saw, and was briefed on, the work that is being undertaken on the learning town project. I recognise the very good work that is being done at the local level to advance such a proposition.
As I indicated in my initial answer, we are considering options in relation to the development of the schools for the future programme, and further announcements will be made by the Government in due course, when the details are to hand. However, I hear the points that Mr Smyth makes about the Dumfries learning town proposal.