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School snub

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Dumfries and West
School snub

A SUPER school in Dumfries which is only five years old is being bypassed by parents who are choosing to send their children elsewhere.

More than 600 pupils who fall within the catchment area of North West Community Campus are being taught at another secondary school, according to an education report.

The campus opened its doors as a brand new facility in 2018, replacing Lochside and St Ninian’s primary schools, Maxwelltown High School and Langlands special school.

While there were a series of issues with the building in the beginning, these were remedied and it is one of the most modern schools in the region.

Despite this, a report tabled at Dumfries and Galloway Council’s recent education committee highlighted how the school is only at 63 per cent capacity.

Mid and Upper Nithsdale Councillor Jim Dempster said: “There are 604 pupils from the catchment area that are going elsewhere.

“I think that’s a disaster. We built a brand new school on the assumption that it would serve the north west of Dumfries, and yet 40 per cent of them are travelling elsewhere.

“It’s a brand new school, it’s an opportunity to go to the best learning environment – and yet 600 of them are going elsewhere.”

Louise Rae, the council’s schools estate specialist, responded: “A significant factor is parental choice. As you know, we have four secondary schools in Dumfries.

“Parental choice means that, as long as there are schools and there is space and teachers to teach them, those children can go elsewhere.

“There is another slight anomaly across Dumfries Academy and North West Community Campus in that two of the primary catchment areas, who are feeders to those schools, have joint catchments.”

The officer explained that Laurieknowe and Lincluden primary schools have dual catchment to both Dumfries Academy and North West Community Campus.

Meanwhile, Castle Douglas and Crocketford Councillor John Young, a former teacher, called for more investment in schools outside of Dumfries.

He said: “We seem to be spending a lot of time and effort on upgrading all the facilities in Dumfries.

“These obviously are political decisions, and I’m not going to challenge them. But I just wish some money was spent on rural schools.”

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