What’s the future for rural schools?

New MSP Fiona McLeod outside Kirkintilloch Herald office 12.5.11 Picture by Jamie Forbes
New MSP Fiona McLeod outside Kirkintilloch Herald office 12.5.11 Picture by Jamie Forbes

SEVERAL schools in East Dunbartonshire will receive protection from closure under the Scottish Government’s rural school’s legislation.

The Scottish Government have announced a moratorium - or freeze - on rural school closures for at least a year until the new laws, which could provide further protection, are drafted up.

Niall Campbell, chairman of Baldernock Primary School’s parent council, had previously insisted that Baldernock, as well as Twechar and Torrance primaries, were classified under the rural school definition.

But in July council education chiefs told the Herald they were “working closely with the Scottish Government to establish the classification of a number of schools” and described the three primaries as ‘small schools’.

Now Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP Fiona McLeod has confirmed that they are classed as rural schools, after submitting a written question to the Scottish Government.

She said: “The final decision on a school’s rural status rests with the Scottish Government.For the next year they have been protected from closure while a commission looks into how we provide education in rural areas.”

She continued: “I appreciate East Dunbartonshire Council doesn’t have any ‘live’ plans, but the threat of school closures is definitely in the air. So I am delighted the Scottish Government is protecting vulnerable but essential schools across Scotland in these financially tense times.”

John Simmons, East Dunbartonshire’s director of community services, said: “Within East Dunbartonshire Council, five educational establishments are classified as ‘Accessible Rural’ as per the Scottish Government’s ‘Urban/Rural Classification’: Baldernock Primary School; Torrance Primary School; Turnbull High School; Twechar Language and Communication Unit and Twechar Primary School.

“As the council has outlined previously, the Scottish Government’s rural schools legislation will determine any future ‘rural’ funding arrangements.”

He added: “The council has previously confirmed that there are no plans for school closures to be included as part of the savings proposals for the 2012/13 Revenue Budget.

“It is not appropriate to comment on what any future council will decide to do, but it is certain that any decisions would be taken in accordance with the relevant Scottish Government legislation.”