Got the opportunity to visit some of North Lanarkshire Councils new schools today and it was a really eye opener for me.
Our first stop was Airdrie Academy where we got a tour of the new school and got to see the Science, Music, P.E., Languages departments etc and the quality of the facilities were incredible. The school was really airy and the pupils and teachers are thriving in the new facilities. It would be hard for anyone to argue that educational attainment would not be enhanced in this setting. Whilst I would question whether PFI and PPP is the correct method of funding school building, what I cannot question is that it would be difficult to achieve such a vast building programme within a short period of time without impacting on government borrowing. I really hope these facilities last the test of time and don't become caught up in an economic straight jacket.
We moved on to see the joint school campus of St. Patricks and New Stevenson primaries. This has brought two separate schools together on one new site and has helped in bringing an often divided community in the past closer together. Again the new facilities were impressive and I even got a demonstration of how a smartboard works!
Our National Chair, Principal Advisor for Scotland and myself then went back to the Civic Centre where the Provost hosted a civic lunch for us, along with the Council Leader and the Leader of the Opposition. It was a humbling experience to see at first hand the excellent contribution that teachers and support staff make to preparing young people for the future, it was also great to see the area I grew up in making rapid progress towards regenerating itself.