Although funding for any potential development has not yet been identified, members of the Education Committee are being asked to agree to proceed with a formal six-week consultation so future plans for schools and early learning and childcare in the village can be developed.
The Learning in Neilston consultation would consider the potential for creating a shared campus for Neilston Primary, St Thomas’ Primary and Madras Family Centre.
It is being proposed that the development would be on the current site of Neilston Primary, as a feasibility study has shown that this location is large enough. The St Thomas’ Primary site was also considered, but was not big enough to include both schools and the family centre.
Any future shared campus would retain the unique identities of both schools, with each having its own head teacher and Parent Councils, and would be of a similar size to the Faith Schools’ Joint Campus (St Clare’s Primary and Calderwood Lodge Primary and Nursery Class) which opened in Newton Mearns in August 2017.
The move is being considered due to the current condition and suitability of both the school buildings and family centre.
Major refurbishment and redesign of the current buildings would be required to ensure they meet the educational needs of pupils, with a £2.8m maintenance backlog already identified across the three buildings.
A significant number of additional homes are planned for the area in the coming years, which will lead to a steady but moderate rise in school rolls, so the Council is considering the best options to ensure educational provision in the area meets the growing needs of the community.
In addition, East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure currently operates three facilities in Neilston – Glen Halls, Neilston Leisure Centre and Neilston Library – which also require investment to improve their condition. The existing Neilston Primary site would also be able to provide opportunities for including a new library and sports centre for the village.
Mhairi Shaw, Director of Education at East Renfrewshire Council, said: “The proposal to hold a formal consultation about future education provision in Neilston offers us the opportunity to consider how we can provide the best learning facilities possible for the village. It is important to be clear that any shared facility would retain the individual identities of both schools, although may provide some shared facilities - such as a gym hall, dining areas and meeting spaces. An informal consultation has already been held which has received positive feedback from a range of stakeholders, including the Parent Councils at both schools. It is now for Councillors to consider the proposal and decide whether to progress to this formal consultation.”
If approved by the Education Committee, the consultation would start on May 11 and close on June 26, with the results being reported in October.