JOHN Swinney has agreed to meet parents after a blunder at an SNP-run council left a brand new £18m school “half the size it needs to be.”

However, the Deputy First Minister  - standing in for Nicola Sturgeon at question time - attempted to downplay the furore around Dargavel Primary, telling MSPs, “issues of this type can emerge in the planning of individual projects”

Last week, The Herald revealed that taxpayers in Renfrewshire could soon be forced to pay £19m trying to fix the new school in Bishopton.

It should have been able to accommodate 1,100 pupils, but due to an “error” by officials, the new building can only hold 430 kids. 

READ MORE: Dargavel Primary 'too small' after council blunder

With the roll expected to rise to around 620 next year, and over 700 the year after, the council is now preparing to bring in portacabins at a cost of £2m. 

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 is part of the privately funded Dargavel Village project, a 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 could be around £17m. 

Raising the issue in First Minister’s Questions, Neil Bibby, a Labour MSP for West Scotland, said parents were worried about the consequences. 

He said: “The newly built Dargavel primary school is half the size it needs to be. Built for a capacity of around 450 pupils, the estimated roll is set to be 1100. 

“Children promised a new school now face learning in portacabins. Parents are appalled and have lost confidence in Renfrewshire Council.

"This mistake will cost millions of pounds from Renfrewshire's already squeezed education budget. A colossal waste.” 

He asked the Deputy First Minister to meet with him and parents “to discuss what solutions can be provided for local children now, to make sure there is accountability for what has gone wrong here, and to ensure that no other child in Renfrewshire loses out from any resulting shortfall in school budgets.”

Mr Swinney told MSPs: “It's obviously a matter of concern when issues of this take their course. Of course, the points that Mr Bibby raises with me come against the backdrop of widespread improvements in the school estate across the whole of Scotland. 

“When this government came to office 63 per cent of children were being educated in good or satisfactory buildings that is now in excess of 90% as a consequence of the investment the government has made. 

“So there is an individual problem that he's raising with me about this school, but the general position in Scotland is of an improving nature of the school estate. 

“I'll happily meet with Mr Bibby and his constituents to consider the issues that he raises with me, but I would encourage him to recognise that issues of this type can emerge in the planning of individual projects.

"But that against the backdrop of sustained investment by this government, the quality of the school estate is improving around the country.”

Speaking to The Herald after First Minister's Questions, Mr Bibby said "I am pleased that the Deputy First Minister has agreed to meet with me and with parents to discuss the impacts of the blunder at Dargavel school and how they can best be resolved.

"But I hope by the time Mr Swinney meets with parents he has better answers and understands the scale of this failure and the impact it will have.

"For parents to be effectively told mistakes happen and people need to focus on the bigger picture is wholly inadequate.

"Parents and pupils need real answers, accountability, and proper solutions."