Loreburn Primary staff and pupils are keen to relocate to the Dumfries Academy campus and access better facilities – but are seeking assurances beforehand.
Teachers and pupils from the Dumfries primary school met with HM educational inspectors ahead of the proposed move to the Minerva building on the campus site, and told of their excitement at the prospect of bigger classrooms and PE space.
However, there were a number of issues highlighted by both the youngsters and staff.
Safe travel to school, accessibility to toilets separate from Dumfries Academy, disruption, and the shared use of some facilities in the Minerva building were all raised with education chiefs.
A consultation report, due to be tabled at Dumfries and Galloway Council’s education committee next Tuesday, reads: “Almost all of those who met with HM inspectors raised concerns regarding the availability of safe, green outdoor space and safe routes to school, particularly during building work at Dumfries Academy campus.”
Both primary and secondary pupils expressed concerns about the possibility of shared toilet facilities if, and when, younger Loreburn pupils make the switch.
The council report responded to these worries, stating: “The design, although not fully developed, will ensure that the primary pupils are fully segregated from secondary.
“The Minerva building (Loreburn Primary) will have its own dedicated toilet facilities for primary pupils and staff.
“Dumfries Academy pupils will not have access to any of the dedicated primary school space within the Minerva building. This will be controlled via access-controlled doors.”
Council officials said that some disruption to pupils’ education is “unfortunately inevitable” as the relocation of Loreburn Primary youngsters takes place.
But, with Dumfries Academy currently designed to accommodate twice the number of pupils that attend the school, relocating pupils into other areas of the campus should allow teaching to continue without significant disruption.
In the discussions they had with education inspectors, almost all children and staff from Loreburn Primary shared concerns about the Minerva building they’ll be based in still being used by secondary pupils occasionally.
Council education officials responded: “The shared use of the Minerva building extends to two business studies rooms and library on the first floor.
“The design will not allow unfettered access between primary and secondary pupils. Primary pupils will only access these shared facilities within the Minerva at pre-determined/timetabled times throughout the week.
“Secondary school pupils will at no time have access to primary school learning and teaching spaces.”
The current Loreburn Primary building is in poor condition and staff are said to be keen to move onto better facilities as soon as possible.
The whole process began in November 2019 when an options appraisal was drawn up for the future of Loreburn Primary.
A consultation on the proposed relocation to the Minerva building on the Dumfries Academy campus ran from September 5 until November 4 last year, however there were no contributions from the public.
Education Scotland has evaluated the move and concluded that the council has made “a strong case” to relocate Loreburn Primary School from its existing building to the Dumfries Academy campus.
However, the national education body insisted that the council will need to address the concerns of staff and pupils in its final consultation report.