Council say saving Abronhill High School is “not viable” yet HMiE say amalgamation will have a “detrimental impact” on education
Written by Scott Campbell.
 
 
Published at 15:42 GMT on Tuesday 15th January, 2013.
 
CUMBERNAULD and Abronhill High School could soon be merged as a report in the council’s proposed amalgamations was published shortly before 11am, this morning.
 
The decision to close Abronhill High School will now be signed, sealed and delivered between 5th or 6th February, although confusion lingers as the actual date when the Learning and Leisure Services Committee will meet.
 
The proposal is part of a package of £73.3 million budget cuts by North Lanarkshire Council, although council sources suggest that the real figure has dropped to under £60 million.
 
A spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council’s Learning and Leisure Services commented on the report’s publication: “A consultation report on the proposed rationalisation of Abronhill High School and Cumbernauld High School has been published.”
 
The official report has been forced to concede that attempts by parents, pupils and supporters to make the council perform a U-turn and its mind had been "unprecedented"
 
“The level of response was considerable and unprecedented in volume,” the spokesman added.
 
The Official document concludes that Abronhill High School, the setting for the classic Scottish cult film Gregory’s Girl, should shut as there are no viable alternatives.
 
“The two main reasons for the proposal are that both schools are significantly under occupied and the rationalisation will bring savings to allow a new school to be built,” the council spokesman continued.
 
“It is important to note that the report, at this stage, makes no recommendations. However, in line with relevant legislation, it does detail all of the main points raised, a response from the service to these issues, an assessment of alternative proposals and a statement from Education Scotland along with the service’s response to those issues.”
 
Although no formal recommendations have been presented it is believed that the recommendations will be in line with the points raised, suggesting that the amalgamation should be taken forward. The whole saga means that pupils from Abronhill High could soon be transferring to Cumbernauld High from August.
 
Cumbernauld and Kilsyth’s SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn, who was one of those to respond to the consultation, has pleaded with North Lanarkshire Council to listen to the strength of feeling from residents.
 
 “It is easy to understand the level of opposition which the council’s plans to close Abronhill High School has generated,” he said.
 
“This is a successful school and the centre point of the Abronhill community and its closure would be bad news for the whole area.
 
“It is now up to the council to listen to the views that it sought and act accordingly.
 
“There are alternatives to closing Abronhill High School and I would urge the council to take these suggestions seriously.”
Alternatives, raised by people from all circles, including the Scottish Socialist Party, Councillors, numerous Community and Parent Councils, North Lanarkshire EIS and Strathclyde Police, included refurbishing Abronhill High School creating a ‘community hub’, which would include local facilities such as a library and community centre.
 
However, the report has concluded that none of the alternatives suggested could be considered and that the amalgamation would be the best option.
 
The document also includes the latest inspection report by HMiE, which is scathing in its criticisms of the council’s proposals.
 
“The proposal from North Lanarkshire Council to rationalise Abronhill and Cumbernauld High Schools on one campus by closing Abronhill High School at the end of session 2012/13 and transferring young people to the existing Cumbernauld High School addresses the under capacity issues in the school estate and would also help the council achieve budget savings,” the HMiE report acknowledges.
 
“However, the proposal may have a detrimental impact on the education of some young people, particularly those with additional support who require careful transition planning,” the report adds.
 
A statement from the Save Abronhill High School Working Group will follow shortly.
 
 
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