PARENTS will be asked to back plans for super-size high schools in West Fife.

Fife Council will launch a consultation about their proposals to tackle a looming capacity crisis with Dunfermline, Inverkeithing, Queen Anne and Woodmill due to be as good as full between 2020 and 2021.

Options for a new high school or temporary accommodation – huts – are likely to be ruled out on Tuesday with the preference to increase the number of pupils at each high school.

Councillors at the education and children’s services committee will be told that the cheapest, quickest and easiest way forward is to extend and remodel Dunfermline and Queen Anne so they can cope with the first influx.

New and replacement schools for Inverkeithing, St Columba’s and Woodmill would then be built to a size to cope with the next increase.

The capacity crisis has been known about for some time – the Press launched the Action for Schools campaign back in January 2017 – with the scale of housebuilding in the area piling pressure on education chiefs.

Adding to their problems, Inverkeithing, St Columba’s and Woodmill are all rated category ‘C’ for condition and suitability, with the council committed to replacing them.

However, in a report to the committee, the executive director of education, Carrie Lindsay, admitted: “The solution for providing additional secondary accommodation is yet to be finalised.

“The solution could be in the form of a new school or extensions to existing buildings.”

She added that “integrated learning campuses” and the “rationalisation of the number of schools” were also being considered.

The agreed way forward should be tailored to meet the level of demand and “phased in line with development so that additional capacity is available when required, without building accommodation which may be under-utilised until future phases of development are undertaken”.

One of the key messages from the report is the need to “reduce the overall cost” as, while the council announced £117 million recently for the replacement of Inverkeithing, St Columba’s and Woodmill, as well as extensions at Dunfermline and Queen Anne, they’ll still need “significant funding” from the Scottish Government and money from housing developers to finance their plans.

The replacement of Inverkeithing alone was put at £73m recently.

Ms Lindsay confirmed: “There are significant and continued challenges for the school estate in Fife, with ongoing issues or poor condition in some of our buildings.

“In the secondary sector within the wider Dunfermline area, this is compounded by the impending shortfall in school capacity.”

Dunfermline High’s current pupil roll is 1,630 against a reported capacity of 1,750: Inverkeithing has 1,181 pupils (1,634 reported capacity); Queen Anne has 1,632 (reported capacity 2,050); St Columba’s has 838 (reported capacity 1,069); and Woodmill has 1,390 (reported capacity 1,445).

However, to ensure that schools can operate at a ‘comfortable’ level, the council plans and tries to ensure that they do not exceed 90 per cent capacity. Discussing the four non-denominational high schools – DHS, IHS, QAHS and WHS – Ms Lindsay said: “When the impact of all proposed development is added to the roll projections, there is insufficient capacity to accommodate all of the additional growth.

“Whilst some of the future development can be accommodated within the available capacity, the 90 per cent planning capacity across Dunfermline schools will be exceeded between 2020 and 2021, with the peak of the over-capacity being from 2025.

“From this time period, additional secondary capacity will be required to accommodate all the projected secondary pupils that will be living within the Dunfermline and West Fife area.”

Three options will be presented to councillors on Tuesday.

Ms Lindsay said: “The most obvious would be to simply build a new secondary school on a new site yet to be determined. However, there are some serious issues inherent in this approach.”

The building of the new school would need to be phased over a number of years and its operation would be “severely impacted” with pupils likely to “spend their entire secondary school career in a school that is constantly being extended and upgraded”.

She added that no site had been identified and it was a “more expensive” option.

Providing temporary accommodation at the existing schools, until a new or “much larger” high school was ready, would also be costly “and commit pupils to a long number of years being partially taught in temporary accommodation outwith a main school building”.

The third option, to remodel and extend Dunfermline and Queen Anne to cope with the increases while replacements for Inverkeithing, St Columba’s and Woodmill are built, would provide the “best educational benefits”, make the best use of the money available and be quicker, she stated.