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Viable Alternative Proposals
to North Lanarkshire Council Learning and Leisure Services Proposed rationalisation of Abronhill High School and Cumbernauld High School
Save Abronhill High School Working Group Alternative Proposals Sub-group
The Learning and Leisure Services committee of North Lanarkshire Council has agreed to consult on the proposal that Abronhill High School and Cumbernauld High School be rationalised at the end of session 2012/13 on one campus with the option to build a new school in the future. This paper has been prepared by the Save Abronhill High School Working Group with the purpose of illustrating viable alternatives to school closure which would both benefit the community of Abronhill and contribute to the desired outcomes of the North Lanarkshire Council Community Plan. The following issues have been considered in the preparation of this paper: • • • Abronhill High School as essential component of the community Proposed rationalisation of Abronhill High School and Cumbernauld High School by North Lanarkshire Learning and Leisure Services Alternative proposals Option 1 New build CHS and refurbish or new build AHS Option 2 Reconfigure Cumbernauld Secondary Schools Option 3 Creation of 3-18 Curriculum for Excellence Community Campus for both Cumbernauld HS and Abronhill HS Benefits to alternative proposals
Abronhill High School as an essential component of the Community
Abronhill is not merely a suburb of Cumbernauld; designed as a ‘satellite town’, on the north east periphery of the New Town, Abronhill is a discreet, self-contained entity, with its own identity and resources: • • • • • • • local shopping centre high school primary schools nurseries library medical centre community centres
These resources and mixed residential development have created a sense of place and identity for Abronhill, which it has struggled to maintain in recent years when losing a Primary School, two nursery schools, and three small community buildings due to North Lanarkshire Council cuts. All Abronhill facilities are within short walking distance of residential areas and can be accessed easily and safely using a variety of well-lit, well-maintained walking routes. Successfully achieving the desired outcomes of the North Lanarkshire Corporate Plan, Abronhill is a strong, sustainable community and an attractive place to live and work due to the range of resources available and key role played by the Secondary School as a facility which benefits the entire community.
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Abronhill High School is located at the centre of the community, adjacent to the shopping centre, community centre. Library and health centre. Opened in 1979, only 33 years ago, Abronhill High is a modern, non-denominational comprehensive secondary school. It consists of a three storey classroom block; a PE block containing a swimming pool, games hall and gymnasium; a library, theatre, dining area, a music suite and specialist accommodation for business education, computing, home economics, science and technical. There is also a hockey and football pitch, as well as a purpose built mountain bike course near the school which pupils regularly access as part of the PE curriculum.
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Abronhill High school is an essential component of the community: • • Local shops and other businesses rely on term-time revenue to sustain them and would otherwise become untenable and in danger of closure. School facilities and grounds are utilised after school hours every night by a range of sports clubs including football, zumba, taekwondo and dance, attended by all ages of people from within Abronhill and also from other areas within Cumbernauld due to the central location, quality of resource and ease of access. Abronhill Regeneration Forum utilise the school grounds for a range of events to raise funds for essential community regeneration projects, such as insurance of the Community Playpark that was built using Lottery funding. Abronhill High School has been developing their Creative Arts department (Art, Music and Drama) and has become very successful. There are performances held in the school throughout the year which are well attended by the community and have become embedded in the community calendar of activities.
People chose to reside in Abronhill as the nature of the town complements the objectives of the North Lanarkshire Council Community Plan (2011-2014), meeting the North Lanarkshire Partnership’s vision for places where: • • • • • • people want to live because of the range, quality, and affordability of housing; the safety of communities; the quality and accessibility of the natural environment; and the quality of amenities and services in the area people live well because health, well-being, and life chances are as good as those elsewhere in Scotland people choose to do business because support for new and existing businesses, business sites, the transport network, and the quality of workforce are second to none in Scotland people participate in learning at all ages and stages of life to achieve their full potential people have a fair chance in life and where factors that limit opportunities are overcome particularly our children and young people are safe, nurtured, healthy, achieving, active, respected, responsible, and included
To maintain this vision for the community of Abronhill, the existing facilities that benefit our community and safeguard our environment must remain. The removal of the key facility at the heart of the community, Abronhill High School, would be catastrophic for local residents and have an effect directly opposed to the above vision: • Without term-time business, many local shops and businesses would be in direct and imminent danger of closing. Once shops were closed, the usage of other resources such as the library and community centre would certainly decline, placing all under severe pressure of closure; leaving the town bereft and no more than a very large housing scheme. It should be remembered that a large percentage of the Abronhill population are young families and the elderly, many of whom do not have the ability or resource to regularly travel to Cumbernauld Town Centre to access resources. The quality of the area would be devastated and health and wellbeing of the entire community would suffer irreversible damage.
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Many families choose to live in Abronhill because of accessible, local facilities, within safe walking distance and many may not move into the area due to a lack of facilities should the school closure go ahead; impacting on the value of housing and subsequent degeneration of the community and limiting life chances of residents. There are many concerns by the community regarding the safety of their children on the isolated paths through dense woodland to CHS. A concerned parent who works within the community safety environment, providing personal safety advice to adults and young people said ' I would not recommend use of either pathways by persons walking during the dark, autumn and winter mornings and nights. I would not use the paths alone myself in these conditions due to the lack of natural visibility. Safety is first and foremost about prevention, not cure.'
Abronhill High is geographically, economically, socially and educationally central to our community; as such alternative proposals must be considered.
Proposed rationalisation of Abronhill High School and Cumbernauld High School by North Lanarkshire Learning and Leisure Services
The proposal made by North Lanarkshire Council Learning and Leisure Services is that Abronhill High School and Cumbernauld High School be rationalised onto one campus for the start of session 2013/14. There are two main reasons for this proposal: (1) The current schools are not cost effective with significant underutilisation. The rationalisation will bring savings which can be either reinvested or help to minimise savings in Learning and Leisure Services and other council services; (2) It will provide the best opportunity for a new build school in the future to be adequately funded. The justification for this proposal is as follows: According to the Learning and Leisure Services Head of Resources report dated August 2012 - Review of Non-denominational Primary and Secondary School Roll Projections within the North Area Committee Boundaries: • In relation to Strategic Priority 1, Abronhill HS and Cumbernauld HS were identified as less than 60% occupied; and two of the feeder schools, Abronhill Primary School and Carbrain Primary School were also less than 60% occupied. In relation to Strategic Priortiy 2, AHS and CHS were assessed as rated B for both condition and suitability; Abronhill PS, Whitelees PS, Kildrum PS and Carbrain PS were assessed as rated B or C for either condition or suitability.
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In June LLS committee agreed three strategic priorities for developing the future school estate, as follows: • • • Strategic Priority 1: There should be an improvement in occupancy/capacity ratios (known as building utilisation) ; Strategic Priority 2: We should be increasing the number of schools rated as A or B for both condition and suitability; and Strategic Priority 3: Any strategy should work towards reducing the Council’s carbon footprint.
The approximate cost of construction will be calculated on the following metric: Pupil roll x area per pupil x all in construction cost per square metre The second and third metric are currently assessed by the Scottish Futures Trust:
Pupil Roll 400 401-800 801-1200 1201 +
M2 13 12 11 10
All in construction cost per square metre £1900 (BCIS April 2012) The combined school roll for AHS/CHS of 1126 would take occupancy of 110%. North Lanarkshire Council Learning and Leisure Service proposals Greenfaulds HS - Build 1500 capacity at an approx cost of £30m Consideration of new Cumbernauld HS - Consider 1200 capacity at an approx cost of £25m. thus allowing a total of 2700 capacity at a cost of approx £55m Save Abronhill High Working Group believe that a number of viable alternative proposals are available which would not negatively impact upon the community of Abronhill.
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Viable Alternatives to rationalisation of Abronhil High School and Cumbernauld High School Option 1 - New build CHS and refurbish AHS or combination of refurbish/new build AHS Backgroud School estate in Cumbernauld: School Abronhill HS Cumbernauld HS Greenfaulds HS Location Larch Road South Kildrum Ring Road Athelstane Rd Built 1979 1964 1971 Capacity 870 1206 1675 Current Roll 486 (56%) 640 (53%) 1354 (81%) Projected Roll 2021 440 (51%) 694 (58%) 1164 (68%)
However, Learning and Leisure Services referred to recently opened St Andrew's High School as a example in the Educational Benefits Statement. This school is 1350 capacity and is 17466 sq.metres. This equates to approx 13 sq m/pupil. This same factor used in Cumbernauld schools: School Abronhill HS Cumbernauld HS Greenfaulds HS Proposal - Option 1-1 Area 9274 sq m 13340 sq m 16466 sq m Capacity 713 1026 1267
New build CHS and refurbish AHS
1. Cumbernauld HS – Rather than consideration of 1200 capacity school at approximate cost of £25m, consider new 700 capacity school at approx cost of £16m, thus saving £9m. 2. Abronhill HS - refurbish using the £9m saving to: • • • reconfigure entrance foyer and adjoining room and build extension to incorporate library into community centre building; build link corridor in extension to connect to PE and swimming pool block in the school; refurbish (some minor amendments required) swimming pool shower and changing areas; gym hall, games room, shower and changing areas; toilets, common area and small gymnasia; extend use out-with school hours; creating a new income stream for the authority refurbish existing high school building. This could include: refurbish the theatre and music block; upgrade sound and lighting; refurbish toilets. This would enable further utilisation by school and community groups. refurbish technical block and make available for evening classes and increase further utilisation by the community.
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• • •
refurbish art and design department; upgrade kiln room and make available for evening classes and increase further utilisation by the community. refurbish and decorate classrooms, corridors and teacher bases. install solar panels (both solar thermal and PV panels) on flat roof. Other sources of clean renewable energy sources could be harnessed eg. wind turbines, biomass boilers or geothermal generation using ground source heat pumps. incorporate water economy measures, such as the use of self-closing taps, push button shower valves, and cistern misers to flush urinals incorporate low energy lighting controlled by occupancy sensors in teaching areas, toilets and changing rooms
All the above would contribute to Learning and Leisure Services strategic priorities for developing the future school estate and will bring a substantial benefit to the community. Further utilisation of school facilities could include Abronhill Learning Trust to extend their positive approach to lifelong learning and leisure.
The above plan shows the area between the Community centre and the High school could be utilised to build an extension and link corridor. By separating the PE block from the rest of the school, the facilities could be utililised and accessed through the community centre without having to open the school out of hours.
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Proposal - Option 1-2
New build CHS and refurbish/new build combination to AHS
1. Cumbernauld HS – Rather than consideration of 1200 capacity school at approximate cost of £25m, consider new 700 capacity school at approx cost of £16m, thus saving £9m. 2. Abronhill HS - refurbish using some of the £9m saving to: • • reconfigure entrance foyer and adjoining room and build link corridor in extension to connect to PE and swimming pool block in the school refurbish (some minor amendments required) swimming pool shower and changing areas; gym hall, games room, shower and changing areas; toilets, common area and small gymnasia; extend use out-with school hours; creating a new income stream for the authority
3. New build 500 capacity school at approx cost of £15m. This would incorporate full accessibilty to library, theatre, technical areas, art and design areas for community use out of hours. This would provide an income stream for the authority contribute to the three strategic priorities for developing the future school estate. Option 2 Reconfigure Cumbernauld Secondary Schools Learning and Leisure Services application for funding support from the Scottish Futures Trust (from report to committee dated 25 April 2012) states: "The capacity of the current Greenfaulds High School is 1675. Roll projections have recently been updated up to year 2021 with the highest projected roll (without placing requests) being 1354. With placing requests the roll would increase to 1522. It is suggested that the planning capacity for a new school should be 1500." The highest projected roll used here is in fact the actual school roll in 2011 and therefore includes placing requests. The highest projected school roll including impact of CGA is 984 and allowing for placing requests the roll would increase to 1152, therefore suggesting that the planning capacity should be at most 1200. No rezoning (but including impact of CGA) • • • Abronhill HS - 550 capacity approx cost of £13m Cumbernauld HS - 800 capacity approx cost of £18m Greenfaulds HS - 1200 capacity approx cost of £25m thus allowing a total of 2550 capacity at a cost of approx £56m
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Rezoning whole Cumbernauld area Rezone the catchment areas between the 3 schools: 3 no 850 capacity approx cost of £18m thus allowing a total of 2550 capacity at a cost of approx £54m Impact of South Cumbernauld Community Growth Area
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Option 3 Creation 3-18 Curriculum for Excellence Community Campus for both Cumbernauld High School and Abronhill High School A third option would be to combine all nurseries, primary schools and secondary schools in two distinct community campus locations, Abronhill and Kildrum. Rolls and capacities The projected rolls are taken from Head of Resources review of schools within North Area report. The following table shows the individual rolls and capacities with the total for the combined campus but doesn't take account for the nursery provision within the alternative proposal:
Future use of buildings Abronhill PS, Whitelees PS, Carbrain PS, Kildrum PS and Abronhill Library would be surplus to requirements and the Council's Property Services could dispose of the land and buildings on completion of each combined campus. At a rough rate of between £175-225K per acre would give a residential value of approx £3.5-4.5million. Financial implications • • Abronhill Campus at 1100 capacity approx cost of £23million. Cumbernauld Campus at 1200 capacity approx cost of £25million.
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Benefits of alternative proposals All of the options set out create the greatest benefits in terms of the delivery Curriculum for Excellence for the young people of Cumbernauld and the Council. Importantly, Curriculum for Excellence recognises the importance of learning that takes place outside the classroom, including the educational benefits of effective interaction between the school and its wider community. Further benefits include: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • The creation of state of the art educational facilities which will meet the needs of learning and teaching in the 21st Century Approximately 2,300-3,800 children and young people being educated in A rated premises Improved pupil transition routes between nursery and primary and primary and secondary in 3-18 campus option Provision for inter disciplinary learning and cross sectoral working between staff of the establishments for the benefit of the young people during their educational journey Access to a range of external sports facilities and external class spaces which will be designed to meet current and future curricular needs Inclusive premises which can be accessed by all young people and members of the community Creation of improved social spaces for young people to use for informal learning and recreational activities Maximised use of ICT in the delivery of the curriculum, using latest technologies Increased pupil occupancy level Greater promotion of inter-agency working through specially designed facilities, which maximise the opportunities for all young people and the wider community The development of a truly community facilities which can become the hub for Council service provision Revenue savings which will accrue from increased energy efficient buildings A reduction in the Council’s carbon footprint and CO2 emissions which will contribute towards the objectives of the Climate Change Act; Delivery of best value for money combined with greatest community benefit
There are other viable alternatives to reduce costs, however the unprecedented accelerated timescale is not allowing full and proper consideration to be given to such proposals.
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