WITHIN the last few minutes, it's been confirmed that the Scottish Government has committed funding to replace Woodmill High School.

The funding will come as part of the First Minister’s Programme for Government announced today, which details the Scottish Government’s key priorities this year. 

The Cabinet Secretary for Education, John Swinney, made the commitment in response to a letter to Dunfermline MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville.

The pledge comes in the immediate aftermath of a fire devastating at the Dunfermline school. 

It has not been confirmed yet how much money has been secured, but Fife Council are currently planning to build the two new high schools next to Fife College’s new buildings, with the joint learning campus at the Shepherd Offshore site estimated to cost around £180 million.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "We will shortly announce the first set of schools to be built through our new £1 billion school investment programme. 

"A priority of that project will be to work with Fife Council to rebuild Woodmill High School in Dunfermline as quickly as possible after it was badly damaged."

Funding for new high schools in West Fife had always been expected to be announced after the summer as part of the Scottish Futures Trust but Woodmill High has become the first school to secure any money. 

Previous estimates have suggested that it takes three to four years to build new facilities with discussions already taking place about proposals for a joint campus at Halbeath before the devastating fire.

Cash was needed from the Scottish Government for the campus, which includes Woodmill and St Columba's, to go ahead.

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, pledged last week to “accelerate” talks on replacing the badly-damaged Woodmill High.

Dunfermline MSP, Shirley-Anne Somerville, hailed today’s announcement by the Scottish Government, in partnership with Fife Council, and told the Press: "Of course the announcement has been sped up because of the fire, but I'm convinced that this would have happened anyway.

"Clearly the council and the government are in touch to move quickly with plans with the current situation.

"It's fantastic that the funding agreement has been reached. It will allow them to move at a quicker pace.

"It does take time to built new facilities but what they have needed to hear is that this funding package was here.

"Everyone will be doing what they can to make sure that there will be workmen in Dunfermline building a campus.

"Fife Council are moving forward with these plans for a super campus and it's certainly what they have been speaking about to the government."

Fife Council has been seeking funding from the Scottish Government to replace St Columba’s and Woodmill for a number of years.

The council has also committed to replacing the crumbling Inverkeithing High School and have set aside their own capital funds to pay for that.

They also want to extend Dunfermline and Queen Anne high schools to cope with a looming capacity crisis, caused by the scale of housebuilding in West Fife. Although Scottish Government money has been secured now, it’s unclear at this stage what impact, if any, the fire at Woodmill will have on those plans.

Don't miss Thursday's Press for the very latest developments on the story and details of how pupils, teachers and the wider West Fife community have been responding in the wake of the blaze.