Scottish rural schools face closure

21 Jun 01
Dumfries and Galloway Council is considering the closure of as many as a third of the region's primary schools as part of a sweeping overhaul of education provision.

22 June 2001

Forty primary schools and two secondary schools are under threat from plans being reviewed by the rural authority.

The plans will be released for public consultation.

Dumfries and Galloway used money released by the Scottish Executive to commission independent consultants for a feasibility study. They examined the state of repair of the region's schools; scrutinised current school rolls; and projected future pupil numbers.

The consultants were then asked to construct a plan for the future of educational services in Dumfries and Galloway.

The council is prepared for a strong reaction from disapproving parents and unions over the resulting proposals and claims an open mind over the consultation period and any future implementation of the document.

Alan Scott, of the teaching union the Educational Institute of Scotland, told Public Finance: 'Years of under-investment mean there is a huge need for schools to be repaired and replaced. We are not necessarily against school closures but they have to be for educational reasons. This is a rural area and about 40%–50% of the schools have between one and three teachers. If they are closed the length of travel for pupils will be a grave concern to us.'

Fraser Sanderson, Dumfries and Galloway Council's education director, explained what was behind the proposals: 'There are three elements driving it. One is the present condition of our schools building stock.

'The second is that we are looking at a significant 10% to 12% fall in our school roll over the next five years. The third is that the school buildings that we do have are not fit for purpose.'

Sanderson added that the council had a £30m backlog of repairs and maintenance.


Did you enjoy this article?