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Consultation into school closures gets underway, but is "too little, too late"

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 19:51 GMT on Tuesday, July 16th, 2013.

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Picture: Scott Campbell/ Cumbernauld Media.

LAST Friday, the Scottish Government launched a consultation into the process undertaken before a school is closed.

Scottish Education Secretary, Michael Russell, launched the consultation on Friday, 12th July, 2013, in response to the report of the Commission of the Delivery of Rural Education, although the consultation itself will look at the process for urban schools also.

On the same day as Mr Russell launched the Government consultation, the Commission put forward proposals to improve the delivery of education, a number of which require changes to the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010.

The consultation seeks views, by September 2nd, 2013, on issues including the presumption against closure; providing financial information on closure proposals; clarifying and expanding Education Scotland’s role; the basis for determining school closure proposals; establishing an independent referral mechanism; and, views on a five year moratorium between closure proposals for the same school.

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Commenting, Mr Russell described school closures as an “emotive issue”, adding that “…it is important that they are dealt with in an open, effective and transparent manner. Rural schools have particular importance to the local economy and the viability of rural communities. I want to ensure we have measures in place to protect and enhance that, while still providing councils with the flexibility they need.

“The Scottish Government and COSLA set up the Commission to examine the delivery of rural education and review the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010. I am committed to working closely with relevant stakeholders, parents and communities to tackle these difficult issues.

“The Commission suggested a number of changes to the legislation on school closures. I encourage everyone with an interest in schools to consider this consultation and ensure their views are reflected in new legislation which delivers for education, economies and communities.”

The consultation also follows the backing which Scottish Ministers gave to the amalgamation of Abronhill and Cumbernauld high schools, on Friday, June 28th, 2013, with local campaigners – who tried to fight Abronhill high’s closure – saying that the consultation was “too little, too late”. 

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