Calls to safeguard future of school

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CONCERNED parents have called for rural schools such as Torrance, Twechar and Baldernock to be protected.

The Scottish Government has announced a freeze – a moratorium – on rural school closures.

That should be good news for local rural communities, but it is not that straightforward.

Education Secretary Mike Russell has called on councils to delay any rural school closures for at least a year while new legislation is drafted up.

Niall Campbell, chair of Baldernock Primary School’s parent council, believes that the school, along with Torrance and Twechar primaries, is a rural school and should be afforded the protection.

Baldernock was one of eight schools threatened by closure by a council-instructed report last year.

Councillors opted to reject the report’s recommendations, but parents are still concerned about any future closures.

However there is confusion about whether the three schools are actually accepted as rural by the council.

Mr Campbell said: “At a meeting of the parent council forum I was informed by the convenor and officers of East Dunbartonshire Council that Baldernock Primary was not a rural school.

“Baldernock IS a small rural school – it receives around £110,700 in subsidies from the Scottish Government.

“If Baldernock was not a rural school then they would not receive that grant – the Scottish Government recognises rural schools do cost more to operate and therefore subsidises the local authorities.”

But education chiefs say that they are still working to establish whether the schools are rural.

Gordon Currie, the council’s head of education, said: “In accordance with the Scottish Government’s current funding formula for schools, Baldernock and Twechar Primary Schools are classed specifically as ‘small schools’ and this is reflected in the general contribution made by the Scottish Government towards the cost of all council services.

“Due to its size, Torrance is classed more generally as an ‘accessible rural school’.

“The council is currently working closely with the Scottish Government to establish the classification of a number of schools in East Dunbartonshire in relation to the pending changes to Scottish Government rural schools legislation.

“Any future funding arrangements will therefore be determined by Scottish Government.”