Local Labour MSP Colin Smyth has welcomed the action by Dumfries and Galloway Council announced to parents today (12 October) that they will re-commission Maxwelltown High School until the new North West Community Campus re-opens.
The action comes after parents and pupils raised concerns over the decant arrangements that have been in place for the last month and which resulted in pupils from the North West Community Campus having to travel between the three other secondary schools in Dumfries town to receive lessons.
Colin Smyth said, “It has become increasingly clear that the closure of the new North West Community Campus is going to last months rather than weeks. The parents recent meeting showed that given the lengthy closure, they wanted a rethink on the decant arrangements so that pupils didn’t have to travel between three schools. It was clear that no matter how well meaning the current arrangements are, they have been affecting the learning and wellbeing of pupils and putting considerable extra pressure on teachers. I’m pleased that the council have listened to parents and pupils and plan to re-commission Maxwelltown High School to accommodate secondary pupils during the period the new Campus is closed. This is a sensible move and will ensure a return to stability well in advance of senior students sitting prelim exams”
Meanwhile, Colin Smyth has reiterated his call for building contractors who fail to deliver “fit for purpose” buildings as part of the school building programme to be barred from future contracts.
Under current rules new schools that include any Government funding are developed via the Scottish Government’s HUB Southwest delivery model. As part of the model responsibility for the design and build is handed to HUB Southwest by the Council who in turn, after a tender process, appoint the contractor from a pre-determined list, which in the case of North West Community Campus was Graham’s. It is through this process that Dumfries and Galloway Council were given the “gold standard” from HUB Southwest stating the school was fully compliant and safe. However, the school has been closed since August due to a series of faults now being repaired. The Scottish Government are now carrying out an “independent” inquiry into the process and Colin Smyth wants to see contractors who fail to deliver buildings to the correct standard be axed from any future contracts.
Colin Smyth added, “The news that a brand new campus will have to remain closed until next year to fix faults shows the scale of failure to deliver a fit for purpose school by contractors Graham’s and HUB Southwest. Rogue contractors who hand over a school which we know has led to pupils being hurt should not only have to make sure every single flaw is repaired at their expense and independently assessed before pupils are allowed back into the school, but they should be barred from carrying out any future contracts. It would be a scandal if the Scottish Government, who are responsible for this process, turn a blind eye and allow contractors in cases such as this to continue to receive millions of pounds of taxpayers money for future building contracts”.