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University to withdraw from school project

The University of St Andrews is to withdraw from a joint project with Fife Council to build a replacement for Madras Secondary School on university land.

The university says it has “proved impossible” to realise the ambitious vision for a new Madras School close to the heart of the university. It says it has taken the difficult decision now to withdraw from the joint project to allow Fife Council to move as quickly as possible to plan and deliver a new Madras at an alternative site in St Andrews.

With the original vision for the school substantially diluted and no end in sight to protracted negotiations with the council, the University argues the priority now must be the expeditious provision of a long promised new secondary school for the community of St Andrews.

It has however promised to continue to work with Fife Council to deliver the closer academic linkages promised by the original vision.

“We have taken the initiative to step aside from the physical plans for the school, as disappointing as that is, in the belief that the pupils and parents of this community deserve a new Madras as soon as practically possible and will want to see work begin without any further delay,” said Principal Professor Louise Richardson and Senior Governor Ewan Brown.

“We are deeply disappointed that it has proved impossible to realise our ambitious vision for the new Madras School.

“We had aspired to create a great regional secondary school that was closely linked to the academic activities of the University; that had integrated facilities and shared services; that would cultivate the ambitions of its pupils, and provide them with access to one of the best universities in the U.K.

“In 2006, we first approached Fife Council with the idea of building a new school with close physical, academic and support links to the University. In 2009, the Council agreed to open negotiations with us. Since then we have invested an enormous amount of time, energy and resources in working with the Council to provide the families of this community with an exemplary secondary school that would be the envy of others throughout the country.

“Acutely conscious of our place in this community, the University has been committed to this plan from the beginning and on several occasions has agreed to diminutions of the optimum plan in an effort to forge an agreement.

“Nevertheless, on April 19th 2011, the University’s Planning and Resources Committee officially signed off on what we understood to be an agreed plan and sent Heads of Terms to the Council. We did not receive a reply.

“This is no time for recriminations. Many well-meaning people from both the Council and the University have worked hard to try to bring this ambitious project to fruition. Unfortunately the difficult economic times in which we find ourselves, and which are being felt so keenly across the public sector, have militated against the kind of creative thinking required for an innovative project like this to work.

“Now it is important that the Council is able to focus its planning on an alternative site so that a new school can be built as quickly as possible. We at the university are committed to ensuring that we will have close academic links with the new school and hope that the joint educational working groups and other positive relationships that evolved over the past two years will continue to work together to advance the interests of the secondary school pupils of this community.”

Further information

Niall Scott, Director of Corporate Communications

niall.scott@st-andrews.ac.uk

01334 462244, 07711 223062

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