South Ayrshire Councillors are fully behind proposals to create shared school campuses and excellent educational facilities in Maybole and Prestwick.
The decision is another milestone as the Council looks to provide state-of-the-art schools across South Ayrshire which meet the needs of young people, parents and staff as well as the wider community.
Subject to funding being agreed, the new campus in Maybole would be built in the grounds of Carrick Academy. Cairn Primary School and Gardenrose Primary School would merge to become a completely new school located at the purpose-built campus. The Early Years' Centres for both these schools would also merge to be ready for August 2021 when the campus would open. The decision regarding Cairn Primary and Gardenrose Primary will now be referred to the Scottish Government as part of its call-in arrangements.
St Cuthbert's Primary School would also move to Maybole's new educational campus and would continue to operate as a stand-alone school.
A bid for funding for the Maybole Campus will be developed in preparation for the next round of the Scottish Government's Schools for the Future Programme.
In Prestwick, Glenburn Primary School and St Ninian's Primary School will share a new campus to be built in the grounds of one of the existing schools.
Although they will be based on a shared campus with some shared facilities, each school will retain its own distinctive ethos and identity.
Opening at the start of the 2021/22 school session, the new campus will also include an Early Learning Centre. Unlike the schools, this will mean merging the existing centres at Glenburn and St Ninian's. This decision will also be referred to the Scottish Government.
Although the projects are at a very early stage and there will be ongoing consultation as part of the design and build process, the innovative campuses could feature outdoor classroom facilities, multi-use games halls, social areas for play and even allotments. They are also set to be fully accessible featuring much needed community spaces which are all but missing from the existing schools.
The decision comes off the back of reports on the condition of all the schools which underlines that significant work would be required to bring them up to the current standards. In the main, the schools are operating well under capacity and, given their close proximity in their respective towns, it makes sense to adopt a campus-style approach.
Consultation with parents and carers, children, staff, the Roman Catholic Church, HM Inspectors, stakeholders and the wider community has already taken place with the majority supporting the two campuses.
A survey was also introduced to gauge opinion but only received a small number of responses. For the Prestwick campus, 56 people filled in the questionnaire with 27 not in favour of the school move; however the majority was happy with the merger of the Early Years Centre.
In Maybole, there were 87 responses with 57 in favour of the new campus and 59 supporting the merger of the Early Learning Centres.
Councillor William Grant, Lifelong Learning Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council said: "These campuses are set to completely transform learning in Maybole and Prestwick as we look to provide children with the best possible start in life.
"Now the proposals have been agreed, the design stage can start which is an opportunity to address issues expressed during the consultation such as parking, play areas and public access.
"The consultation with everyone involved at the schools and the wider communities will continue over the coming months as the designs begin to take shape.