Away from the hustle and bustle of my Parliamentary schedule, one of the most enjoyable aspects of my constituency work has been visiting primary and secondary schools in the area.
In the last two weeks I have had the privilege of visiting Calderwood and Burgh Primaries in Rutherglen, St. Charles Primary in Newton and Park View Primary in Halfway.
It was lovely to see all the fantastic achievements by staff and pupils in all of the schools I visited.
Calderwood Primary were busy preparing for their Christmas Fayre which takes place this Saturday, 26th November. It was great to meet with the staff and pupils and hear about all their wonderful extra-curricular achievements.
At Burgh Primary I met with the Pupil Council and the Leadership Team and heard about their exciting plans for the refurbishment of the School Library.
It was amazing to see how Park View Primary in Halfway has grown and developed in just three years. They are doing some great work with pupils on “Right and Responsibilities.” The P1/2 class even sang me a song about it!
At St Charles’ Primary the P4 to P7 Assembly children really put me through my paces with some fantastic questions on a range of subjects. I was really impressed by how well informed they were about my role and the Scottish Parliament.
Park View and St. Charles, of course, are both relatively new Primary schools servicing some of the growing Primary education requirement in the Halfway, Drumsagard and Newton areas. Another Primary school is planned for Newton in the near future.
The Cambuslang East Ward has seen extensive development in the past ten to fifteen years. A further 670 new build houses are planned for Newton, Drumsagard and Gilbertsfield.
Unfortunately, planning for the provision of community facilities in the area has not been good and, whilst Primary school provision is catching up, there is now a growing issue with Secondary education provision in the area.
This is a topic that Halfway Community Council have been highlighting for some time now and I am happy to support them in their call for a new Secondary School to be built to serve the Cambuslang East ward.
This is the largest ward in the Rutherglen and Cambuslang area, with the highest number of secondary school children, all of whom are bussed to schools in other areas. The redrawing of school catchment areas in 2012 means that pupils at the new Newton Primary school will sent to Uddingston Grammar when they have completed P7.
As the area continues to expand, there is a strong case for South Lanarkshire Council to look again at the benefits that would accrue with the provision of a new Secondary School in Halfway, which could also incorporate much needed community facilities for the area.
I raised the issue with the Cabinet Secretary for Education, John Swinney, in June and I will be asking South Lanarkshire Council to look again at the case for a new Secondary school and conduct a proper and full analysis.
That is the least that the community and our Primary school children in the area deserve.