JOHN Swinney has been accused of “going back on his word” to meet with the parents of pupils at a brand new school left too small after a council blunder. 

Last week, the Deputy First Minister  - standing in for Nicola Sturgeon at question time - said he would “happily meet” with the Dargavel Primary families. 

But in an email to the school’s parent council and Labour MSP Neil Bibby, a Scottish Government official said Shirley Anne-Somerville, the Cabinet Secretary for Education would now be “taking this forward.”

The earliest date she can offer for a meeting is January 25. 

Earlier this month, Renfrewshire council apologised for an “error” that meant the firm behind the new development had been told to build a school for 430 pupils. 

It should have been able to accommodate 1,100.

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. 

With the £18m building already nearing capacity, and 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. 

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. 

Mr Bibby, a Labour MSP for West Scotland, raised the blunder in First Minister’s Questions last week, telling Mr Swinney that the mistake look set to “cost millions of pounds from Renfrewshire's already squeezed education budget.” 

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: “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.”

Alan Kelly from the Parents’ Council told The Herald: "This is thoroughly disappointing - John Swinney going back on his word is unacceptable, and the meeting date is far too late. 

"As we have stressed - this is not just an education issue. Renfrewshire Council is facing a likely bill of £ 20m, which would have been paid for by developers if they had got the school roll right in the beginning. 

"The Council can’t just plug a £20m hole, it will impact on their ability to provide services right across the council area. That’s why we need the intervention of those at the top of government."

Mr Bibby said: “The Scottish Government once claimed education was a priority but it appears this is no longer the case. These parents have been badly let down by Renfrewshire Council and they deserve accountability and proper solutions. 

“John Swinney might not have time to meet Renfrewshire parents but he should be thinking of communities like ours when he puts forward his budget next month.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We have been in urgent contact with Renfrewshire Council, who are responsible for managing their school estate. Scottish Government officials continue to engage with the Parent Council to set up a meeting at a time that is suitable for all parties.”