£10m bid to revamp ‘worst’ PE facilities

Brian Sloan says West Calder's kit is outdated
Brian Sloan says West Calder's kit is outdated
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A SECONDARY school with the worst sports and dining facilities in West Lothian is set to undergo a £10 million revamp.

West Calder High School is the only secondary in the region without an adequate-sized games hall. The dining facilities are also well below the expected standard, with only around a third of pupils able to eat there at a time.

Last month, West Lothian Council submitted a funding bid to the Scottish Futures Trust to improve facilities at the school, with a decision expected next month.

New PE facilities would include a games hall, dance studio and fitness suite, as well as refurbishment of the swimming pool.

PE teacher at the school, Brian Sloan, believes now is a good time for the school to upgrade its facilities on 
the back of Britain’s Olympic glory.

The 34-year-old, who lives in Pumpherston, said: “I think it has underlined the need for West Calder High to have top-level facilities.

“The pupils have really been held back by the level of facilities that we have and the age of them. We feel we are being disadvantaged by the facilities we have.

“I have worked in five high schools across West Lothian and I have seen a wide range of facilities at schools, and we have by far the worst. We feel we have been left behind a little bit.”

If the funding application is successful, building work would start in spring next year, with the school remaining open during the work – which would take 26 months to 
complete.

Headteacher Fiona Rowland said she would be “delighted” if the funding bid was given the green light.

“The school building was opened in 1965 and the 
PE block hasn’t really 
been changed since then,” she said.

“We don’t have a games hall at all – we have two small gymnasiums which means we can only have two games going on at a time.

“Because of the height of those gyms – they have relatively low ceilings – we can’t do badminton, for example, as part of the curriculum because the shuttlecocks would be forever hitting the ceiling.

“The dining facilities are very small – it’s an open area next to the assembly hall which is about a third of the size 
of what’s in your average school. It can currently only really fit about a third of the school.”

West Lothian’s executive councillor for education, Lawrence Fitzpatrick, said: “An investment of £10 million in West Calder High School would ensure that the school is fit for purpose.”

A spokesman for West Lothian Council added: 
“Dining and PE facilities in West Calder are currently not at the same standard as the other ten secondary schools in West Lothian. Lunches for year groups have to be staggered at present as the space in the dining area is limited, with a similar arrangement with PE facilities.

“The £10 million total is the maximum funding for this project that we could apply for under the conditions set down by the Scottish Futures Trust.”

Vital

A KEY part of schools’ role is to engage learners and the wider community in physical activity and sport. Good facilities are a central part of any strategy to promote PE, physical activity and sport.

There is evidence that pupils in schools can be turned off physical activity if facilities are poor.

Pupils responding to surveys about their likes and dislikes often comment about the changing rooms and how they either feel comfortable or uncomfortable in their surroundings. PE teachers working with good facilities frequently comment on how this opens up possibilities for teaching and learning.

Better school facilities can also help to bring the community together and make the links between schools and clubs stronger.”