Coucillors vote to merge more primary schools

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

Councillors have voted to proceed with a controversial merger between two Catholic primary schools.

Despite a last gasp demonstration by save school campaigners outside East Dunbartonshire Council headquarters yesterday (Thursday) evening, the administration elected to continue with plans to merge St Agatha’s and St Flannan’s primaries, in Kirkintilloch.

A new school will be built on the St Flannan’s site as part of the council’s Primary School Improvement Programme (PSIP).

It was also agreed to merge St Joseph’s Primary, in Milngavie, and St Andrew’s Primary, in Bearsden, at a new school on the current St Andrew’s site.

The two schools are expected to cost a total of around £16million.

Council leader Rhondda Geekie said: “Building these two new schools represents the best option by far in terms of the educational benefits they bring to our young people.

“They will provide an excellent learning environment that will better support and enhance the Curriculum for Excellence. For example, more flexible learning spaces that provide more teaching capacity for areas like music, science, drama and the arts, while the sports facilities, including the outdoor MUGA (multi use games area), will enable dedicated quality physical education for every pupil.

“The buildings will also be equipped with excellent WIFI facilities to enable access to computer technology for every pupil, advancing their skills and learning in this important area.

“These educational benefits have been recognised by Education Scotland, the national government body responsible for supporting quality and improvement in learning and teaching, and have been our priority in making this decision. However, they have not been our only consideration. We also looked closely at the financial implications, given our responsibility to ensure that we provide value for money to taxpayers.

“We must achieve £20 million in budget savings over the next three years and pouring money into old, out-dated buildings rather than using that money to enhance our education provision is not cost-effective.

“We have carried out in-depth consultation with all stakeholders, including the local community, school community and the Catholic Church and we have taken all of these views into consideration and our consultation report details our response.

“This is a complex issue and we have taken all the evidence and feedback from our consultation on board in making these decisions. We will continue to work with all of our stakeholders in delivering the new schools which we believe provide the best educational outcome for these young pupils.”

But campaigners from the Save St Agatha’s campaign are now expected to fight on - asking the Scottish Government to ‘call in’ the decision.

A previous council decision to merge Auchinairn and Woodhill primaries, in Bishopbriggs, was ‘called in’ by Scottish Ministers earlier this year.

More in next week’s Kirkintilloch Herald.