TAXPAYERS in Renfrewshire could be forced to fork out £17m after a council blunder resulted in a brand new school being "too small" to use. 

The new Dargavel Primary School in Bishopton should have been able to accommodate 1,100 pupils, but due to an “error” by officials, the new building can only hold 430 kids. 

The council is now preparing to bring in portacabins next year to stop learners from being left out in the cold. 

What makes this hugely embarrassing for the local authority is that parents have been warning for some time that the new school was not going to be big enough.  

Those concerns were repeatedly rejected by officials. 

The £18m building - which opened this year after being delayed three times - is part of the privately funded Dargavel Village project, a new multimillion pound development to build 4,000 new homes on the site of a former Royal Ordnance Factory by 2034.

As part of the agreement with the council, BAE systems paid for the new school.

However, because they have built it to the specifications supplied to them by the council their obligations under what is known as the Section 75 agreement, are now discharged. 

That means taxpayers will have to foot the bill to upscale the school. 

Professor Alan Dunlop, one of Scotland’s leading architects, told The Herald the extension for a school to accommodate an additional 670 pupils chould be around £17m. 

“I'm bewildered how an ‘error’ can be made in the construction of a school. 

“Design and construction of a school, or any building, including working through developing a brief and the various processes required and making and securing the necessary planning approval and building consent and warrants does not happen over night. 

“It can take a few years. 

“So it's difficult for me to understand how an error so profound as the school being too small can occur.”

In his letter to parents, Steven Quinn, Director of Children's Services at the authority, said: “I am very sorry to advise you an error was made when determining pupil numbers for the new primary school in 2017.”

The official said the calculation used at the time “identified the new school roll would not be more than 430 pupils”.

However, it “became clear after a higher-than-expected number of admissions over this school year, the original projection would be significantly short of what will be required over future years.”

Mr Quinn said new their new “robust” projection “identifies the need to support a peak of around 1,100 pupils as Dargavel village grows over the next decade.”

He said “six new modular classrooms” with their “own heating, cloakroom, and toilet facilities” will be in the playground for next August. It is understood these portacabins will cost £2m.

Local Conservative MSP, Russell Findlay, told The Herald: “For the council to get these basic sums so spectacularly wrong is embarrassing. Most primary school kids have a better grasp of numeracy.

“Pupils and parents have been failed by the abject incompetence of this SNP-run council but Labour can’t dodge their responsibility.

“Parents tried to warn officials but were ignored and, inevitably, taxpayers are left footing the bill.

“I’ve written to Renfrewshire Council on behalf of parents who have real concerns that this will have a detrimental impact on their children’s educational experience and outcomes.”

Katy Clark, the Scottish Labour MSP for West Scotland, said she was “flabbergasted that it has taken five years for the council to flag this up as an issue.”

“Parents have been told that six ‘modular classrooms’ will be in place by next year to accommodate the greater numbers – in other words portacabins in playgrounds.

“There is extensive evidence that school pupils’ ability to learn effectively is affected by their physical environment. It is unacceptable that this panicked solution appears to have been arrived at with no consultation with parents or the local community.

“I will be raising these issues with the council directly and enquire about their long term strategy to accommodate pupil numbers, particularly as taxpayers will be footing the bill due to their mistake.”

Mr Quinn told The Herald: “I am very sorry for this error and apologise to pupils, parents, and carers at Dargavel Primary School and to families across Dargavel Village.

“A full review will be carried out into the circumstances, and we will publish its findings. Our immediate focus is to fix this mistake and get it right for pupils – present and future.

“The school is currently operating within capacity. However, we now know we will need to provide additional space for pupils starting from August 2023 and that is why we are taking steps now to deliver six new classrooms before the start of the new school year. 

“This will create room for everyone until a longer-term solution is developed. We are examining the options to manage future capacity with the intention to finalise those plans next spring. 

“We have updated parents and carers and will work with them over the coming months to deliver the space needed and maintain the high-quality learning experience for Dargavel primary pupils.”