RESEARCH conducted by the University of West of Scotland, and released this week, has concluded that new school buildings can help raise educational attainment and enthuse both students and staff about their learning and teaching. Hardly surprising, I know, and anyone who has been around Dunfermline High in the past few years will see, first-hand, how a new-build school can have a huge effect on attitude, results and outcomes for young people.

The Scottish Government has built new schools way in excess of their target since 2007 and this achievement is delivered against a background of stringent cuts imposed on the budgets for capital projects by the UK.

These cuts are damaging to our ambitions to the new schools build programme but even with the cuts, Fife has done really well out of funding we can access from the Scottish Government for new schools.

A total of £128million is currently going into new schools in Fife. Unfortunately for us, the current political administration in Fife have chosen to prioritise new build schools which all lie east of Kirkcaldy. That’s why we need to step up our campaign for new schools in West Fife – Inverkeithing, Woodmill and St Columba’s.

This week, I met with Fife’s executive director of education, next week with the leader of the council and later this month, the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Angela Constance MSP, to continue the pressure for new-build high schools for Dunfermline and West Fife. On increasing attainment and opening up opportunities, the significance of new school build is irrefutable and Dunfermline deserves better. Let’s get on with the job!

WE head back to the Palace of Westminster next week following Summer Recess and for once the ‘new kids on the block’ will not be the 56 SNP Members of Parliament elected by you in such huge numbers and most with thumping majorities. No, the new kids this time are the 45 newly-appointed Lords who will be leaping at the prospect of picking up £300 per day (just for turning up), who are totally unelected by anyone and with more than 800 Lords, their total number dwarfs the House of Commons (I am told only the People’s Republic of China has a larger number of unelected members in a legislative chamber .

If you want to become a Lord, there are three sure-fire ways of getting there: 1 Give a huge amount of money to a political party – not the SNP though as we do not appoint anyone to the Lords on principle.

2 Become a political has-been – you need to have served your party with unstinting loyalty.

3 Be over 65.

Many parliaments have a second or revising chamber but surely the principle of that we live in a democracy must count for something and any future plans for a second chamber needs to be based on the bedrock principles of democracy, fairness and equity.

The Lords cannot continue in their present state.