Church leaders explain lack of action on merger

St Agatha's Protest.
St Agatha's Protest.

Catholic Church leaders have defended their decision not to step in over controversial plans to merge two primary schools.

East Dunbartonshire councillors will meet tomorrow (Thursday, May 15) to vote on whether to combine St Agatha’s and St Flannan’s primaries on the current St Flannan’s site, in Kirkintilloch.

It’s expected that the administration councillors will vote in favour - sending the proposal to the Scottish Government for approval.

The closure of one of the area’s Catholic schools has caused considerable anger amongst St Agatha’s parents.

A total of 30 of 32 (94 per cent) of those responding to a council consultation were against the plans.

They are planning to join the latest in a series of demonstration outside council headquarters before Thursday’s meeting.

But a majority of parents from St Flannan’s gave their approval, while the Catholic Church did not raise any objection to the move.

St Agatha’s Parent Council chairman John Watson accused the church of “abandoning” the school.

He said: “What do we do when our church abandons support for our children’s education? When the Archdiocese is quoted repeatedly in the council’s consultation report, saying that it will be better for your children’s education to close their school?

“While, at the same time, continuing to refuse to discuss the situation with the parents or give any reasons or evidence to justify the churches position to support the council’s proposal to close St Agatha’s Primary School?”

But a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Glasgow defended the decision.

He said: “The decision to close St Agatha’s rests with the council and not with the Church. The Archdiocese is one of a number of stakeholders, but has limited powers over school closures and has a right only to ask that appropriate provision of Catholic education within a given area be provided.

“While a number of parents would like St Agatha’s to remain, it is very difficult for the Church to argue that the school must remain with such a very small number of pupils.”