Community backing for Neilston and St Thomas’ primary schools on one site

The joint campus could be on the site of the current St Thomas' Primary.
The joint campus could be on the site of the current St Thomas' Primary.

Plans for a new joint school campus in Neilston have been given the thumbs-up by community chiefs.

A public meeting was held to discuss options for a potential super campus to be shared by Neilston and St Thomas’ primary schools.

East Renfrewshire Council is drawing up plans for a new facility, which could be funded by the Scottish Futures Trust, supported by the Scottish Government, if cash becomes available.

The schools have a repairs backlog of more than £2.6m, and any new campus could also have a new leisure centre and library.

Speaking after the public meeting, Neilston Community Council chairman John Scott said: “I think everybody is keen to see the new schools built. The Scottish Government may come up with a pot of money and this plan means that the council will put itself in a very good position to get some of that funding.

“The condition at St Thomas’ is very poor. There is dry-rot in the windows. It’s desperately needing a lot of money spend on it or they need to build a new school.

“Neilston Primary is about 50 years old. It’s not in a very good state of repair either.

“Both schools are not fit for modern education.”

Mr Scott claimed that he was given a promise that Neilston’s current leisure centre and library will remain open until they are moved into a new campus, should that be part of the final plan.

And he said building the new facility on the site of St Thomas’ Primary was his favoured choice.

Mr Scott added: “It will mean that when the children leave the schools they will continue to go to the catchment high schools that they do now.”

He added: “What they are also planning to do is turn Pig Square into a car park. That may cause some local friction, but I don’t see any way around it.

“They’ve made it quite clear that they will need to look at plans to maintain the tree that’s there.

“The community might not be behind parts of the plan but by-and-large looking at the whole thing there is a lot of support.”

The local authority is seeking to create a campus which would maintain both schools as separate entities while allowing them to share some facilities.

At the moment no funding has been secured but the Scottish Futures Trust have in the past given cash to Crookfur Primary, Eastwood and Barrhead high schools to improve conditions.

A council spokesman said: “This formal education consultation about the potential to create a shared education site in Neilston is the first stage in the process of developing future plans for schools and early learning and childcare, and possibly renewed leisure and library, in the village.

“It is important to be clear that any shared facility would retain the individual identities of both schools and family centre, although may provide some shared facilities – such as a gym hall, dining areas and meeting spaces.

“The public meeting and previous meetings with the parent councils of both schools have been very positive, productive and provided useful feedback.”

A consultation on the potential new joint campus will be ongoing until June 26.