COUNCIL chiefs want backing to replace a run-down Paisley Grammar with a new school, writes Jack Thomson.

Officers say the building is “showing major defects” and have asked for the green light to develop plans for a new school. 

The call to action will be made at Thursday’s education board, with some councillors already lending their support to the proposals. 

Paisley Councillor Eddie Devine said: “The building is in a dreadful state. The teachers and pupils are producing incredible results but what they’re working in is very poor. 

“We got invited a few months ago by the parent council and were shocked by what we saw. It looked as if you had walked into an abandoned building. 

“As you leave the main building and go towards what looks like a dinner hall, there’s a passageway and it was covered in pigeon droppings. 

“It needed decorated and there was damp. It’s depressing. They absolutely need a new school. The one there in is substandard. It has outgrown its footprint. 

The Gazette: Cllr Eddie Devine Cllr Eddie Devine

“There needs to be a plan put in place as soon as possible and a consultation.”

School buildings are assessed across three categories, which include condition, sufficiency and suitability. 

They are given one of four grades from A to D, with A being good, B satisfactory, C poor and D bad.

A report, authored by council education manager Ian Thomson, showed Paisley Grammar has been given a C grade for the categories ‘condition’ and ‘suitability’. 

The condition rating assesses the physical elements of the school, such as playgrounds, external structures and services, security facilities and playing fields. 

The suitability rating focuses on whether or not the environment supports the delivery of better services to meet the needs of individual children and communities. 

The school’s condition is said to be “showing major defects and/or not operating as intended”, while its suitability is “showing major problems and/or not operating efficiently”.

The report continued: “Action is required to address the condition challenges faced at Paisley Grammar School. 

“In the short term the facilities management section will undertake works to address immediate property matters through funding identified in the council’s capital budget process 2019/20. 

“Additionally, a proposal to replace the existing school is being developed”.

On the issue of suitability, the report said that although overall the school is a C grade (poor), a number of elements within the survey are rated as D (bad).

Councillor Eddie Devine added: “It’s fantastic workmanship inside but it’s from another era and it’s not suitable for modern teaching methods.

“I would like to think they could find a better use for the original building but the other bits have just been stuck on the end. The pupils and teachers deserve better.”

During the 2019/20 budget process, the council set aside £27 million for investment in its school buildings but will look to unlock additional funding from the Scottish Government’s schools infrastructure fund.

Councillor Jim Paterson, convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Policy Board, said: “It is of paramount importance to us to make sure all Renfrewshire pupils are given the best possible surroundings in which to learn and reach their potential.

“The schools estate management plan being developed takes a detailed long-term view of how to achieve that.

“It identifies action is needed to address issues with facilities at Paisley Grammar School, and while we are making some short-term improvements in the current financial year, a long-term answer is needed.

“Councillors on the Education and Children’s Services Policy Board are being asked to give officers approval to develop proposals to consider building a new school to replace the current building.

“It is important to stress this would only be the first step – officers will consider all options and will consult fully with all concerned to help find the best solution for pupils.

“The funding arrangements are yet to be decided but as part of the council’s budget for this year £27m was set aside for school buildings improvements – some of which could be used to unlock further funding from the Scottish Government.”

The Gazette: Cllr Jim Paterson Cllr Jim Paterson

The main Paisley Grammar building on Glasgow Road is a category B listed structure and was built at the end of the 19th century at a cost of £34,000.

East and West wings were then added in late 1969, while the latest extension was completed in 2002. 

The school – led by head teacher Janice Levens – received a glowing inspection report from Education Scotland in February.

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