Merger of two Peterhead primary schools is still on

The merger of two Peterhead schools looks set to continue despite concerns from parents.

By Kirstie Topp
Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 8:36 am
Plans to merge Meethill and Dales Park primary schools are still likely to go ahead, despite opposition from some parents.
Plans to merge Meethill and Dales Park primary schools are still likely to go ahead, despite opposition from some parents.

Members of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee last week discussed the outcomes of a formal consultation on the merger of Dales Park and Meethill Schools.

Plans for a new Peterhead Community Campus on a site at Kinmundy include the merger and relocation of the two schools to a new state-of-the-art learning facility.

A new Peterhead Academy and Anna Ritchie School are also set to be located at the campus.

Laurence Findlay, Director of Education and Children’s Services, told the committee that the campus project was a “once in a generation opportunity” for Peterhead.

He noted that concerns had been raised about road safety with participants voicing their worries that children living in the Meethill area would have to cross the busy Meethill Road to get to the new campus.

Other participants felt that the campus site was located too far for children to walk to while some commented that the two schools should remain and be upgraded instead.

Councillor Martin Ford welcomed the merger but noted that some parents who took part in the consultation may not be impacted by the future development.

He said: “It’s necessary for us as an education committee to act as the representatives of future parents in taking what is clearly a stategic decision and act in their best interests.”

Councillor Rosemary Bruce moved a motion to continue with the merger plan.

She said: “With proposals of this sort it is very unlikely to achieve unanimity from one side or another and there are bound to be concerns from parents and children but overall there is support for this merger to progress and bring educational benefits for the pupils.”

However, Councillor Alison Evison moved an amendment to remove Meethill from the merger.

She said that responses from parents showed a “clear majority” were against Meethill being part of the new campus and that there was a “strong feeling” that the school was still fit for purpose.

Cllr Evison added: “Recent experience during the last couple of years of Covid has shown us the overwhelming importance of community and the voice of community is what is dominating the response from Meethill, and I think we have to listen to that and withdraw the school from the proposals for the campus.”

However, councillors voted nine to three in favour of the motion to recommend the merger plan continue.

The recommendation will go to Full Council where the final determination will be made later this year.