HMIe say council’s amalgamation evidence is the absent student in the class
Written by Scott Campbell.
 
 
Published at 18:54 GMT on Tuesday 15th January, 2013.
Picture is copyright of Cumbernauld Media/ Scott Campbell.
 
CUMBERNAULD’S Abronhill High School is likely to close ahead of August 2013, to the disgust of many residents. However, a recent report by Scotland’s inspectorate of schools, HMIe, criticises the council’s proposals stating numerous times that the proposals will not benefit the education of pupils at both schools, but rather could have a “detrimental” impact if any amalgamation took place.
 
The four page report was compiled following a visit in December when Education Scotland decided to look into the “educational aspects” of the council’s proposals to amalgamate Abronhill High School with Cumbernauld High, in Kildrum.
 
“Report by Education Scotland, addressing educational aspects of the proposal by North Lanarkshire Council to rationalise Abronhill and Cumbernauld High Schools on to one campus by closing Abronhill High School at the end of session 2012/13 and transferring young people to the existing Cumbernauld High School,” the report reads.
 
The report sets out that it looks at all of the relevant documentation, undertook numerous visits to local schools and its author even attended both consultative events in October 2012; considering the likely consequences of amalgamation for staff, students and other users, the “likely effects of the proposals”, how North Lanarkshire Council will minimise distribution and the benefits that the council holds and for what reasons.
 
Eventually, after visiting Abronhill High School, Cumbernauld High School, Abronhill Primary School, Whitelees Primary School, Cumbernauld Primary School, Kildrum Primary School, Carbrain Primary School and Ravenswood Primary School the report concedes that any amalgamation would “…help the council achieve budget savings” but that the proposals offer up “…a limited number of educational benefits to those children and young people immediately affected by the proposal in 2013.”
 
The report hastens to add that any amalgamation may have “…a detrimental impact on the education of some young people, particularly those with additional support who require careful transition planning,” adding: “This will need further consideration by the council including taking advice from partner agencies about planning for young people with additional learning needs. In addition, there are a number of significant issues which the council will need to consider further if it decides to proceed with the proposal in its current form. This includes providing greater clarity about how it intends to minimise or avoid any adverse effects that may arise from this proposal.”
 
North Lanarkshire Council’s promise that a new building would be constructed where Cumbernauld High School stands have also been criticised by HMIe.
 
“There are no firm plans available for this new build which the council indicates may not be available until around 2016. The proposal does not address sufficiently the educational benefits for young people who would attend the existing Cumbernauld High School campus from summer 2013,” the report explains.
 
Moving on to discuss the summer holiday turn around, which the council sets out for the amalgamation, the report explains that people are, “justifiably concerned about the timescale for implementation and the lack of evidence on possible detriment to young people’s education.”
 
The report also mentions the major fear of parents; the walking route between Abronhill and Cumbernauld High School, stating that the safety fears are “justified” and that, “…the council now needs to provide young people and their parents with clearer information on how it will ensure young people’s health and safety. In doing so, they should consider carrying out a full risk assessment of the walking routes and possible alternatives.”
 
The report then concludes by hammering the final nail in the coffin of the council’s proposals by criticising the council’s “absence of any detailed plans”, adding: “HM Inspectors are not confident that the current proposal to rationalise Abronhill and Cumbernauld High Schools on to one campus by closing Abronhill High School at the end of session 2012/13 and transferring young people to the existing Cumbernauld High School would ensure immediate educational benefits for children and young people in 2013.”
 
 
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