Call for academy replacement

Calls are intensifying for a replacement for Banchory Academy
Calls are intensifying for a replacement for Banchory Academy

Aberdeenshire Council officials have been urged to bring forward firm proposals to build a replacement for ageing Banchory Academy.

The call has been made by local Councillor Jill Webster who is concerned that other secondary school projects in the region are outpacing overcrowded Banchory’s case.

She raised the issue at a recent Marr Area Committee meeting during a debate on the council’s education and children’s services service plan.

Councillor Webster said: “We have been very patient in the Marr area whilst investment has been made in academies elsewhere in Aberdeenshire recognising that investment must be made in areas of the greatest need to date.

“However, now that plans are progressing well for our next major academy developments in Inverurie and Peterhead, Banchory Academy is now at the bottom of the heap, scoring worst in the annual assessment of overall suitability rating to deliver the curriculum.

“I have major concerns about the accommodation as shown in the council’s own annual survey and my concerns are heightened by the recent change to the pupil capacity figures which have increased from 780 to 900.

She added: “We are told this review was as a result of the balance of practical to non-practical subject requirements - but I am sceptical given the emphasis on further development of apprenticeships and practical subjects in the curriculum.

“How can we fit more pupils into an already overcrowded school?”

“I appreciate some space will become available when the Banchory Sports Village comes on stream and plans for this needs to be factored in in the more immediate term.

A site for a replacement academy has been earmarked in Aberdeenshire’s Local Development Plan but unless concrete proposals come forward for a new academy on the site, Councillor Webster fears there will be pressures to remove this from the plan in future.

She said: “Banchory is a fantastic school, with performance results up there with the best in Scotland and terrific pupils and teachers, but it really is time to plan for the future.”

A major building and upgrading programme took place at the school throughout the 1980s and an extension to the science department was completed in 2000.