Ministers consider St Joseph parents plan

Ministers are considering a proposal by parents to run a state-funded Catholic school in Milngavie themselves.
Ministers are considering a proposal by parents to run a state-funded Catholic school in Milngavie themselves.

Parents who want to run St Joseph’s Primary School themselves to save it from closure have welcomed the fact that ministers are seriously considering their proposal.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is looking at plans drawn up by families from Milngavie to set up a new state funded primary school outside council control after East Dunbartonshire Council decided to close St Joseph’s Primary in Milngavie.

The council plans to build a new school in Bearsden which will merge St Joseph’s Primary with St Andrew’s Primary, which is already in Bearsden.

Parents who are campaigning to preserve Catholic education in Milngavie say it’s a really positive step that the Scottish Government is taking the idea of a community school seriously. The Parent Council is going to produce a business case with more detail on the practical issues about how the school would operate and the benefits it could bring to the community.

Parent Paula Speirs said: “The Scottish Government is looking seriously at our ideas and we have had two positive meetings with the First Minister.

“What we are asking for is a pilot scheme, which would give us time to show that a community school based on co-operative principles can work.

“We have already seen in Scotland how democratic control of land can have a transformative effect on people’s lives and we believe true parent power could have a similar impact in the class room.

“The campaign to keep St Joseph’s in Milngavie has mobilised the whole community and our proposal to turn it into a self-governing community school has grown out of the experience of that campaign.

“We believe the enthusiasm we have generated can not only keep the school open, but can also make it better.

“Research has shown that one of the biggest factors in creating a successful school is to get parents and the community involved and we believe that not only can we do this, but we can go further.

“We could form partnerships with local organisations from sports clubs to third sector organisations to support an enhanced experience not only for the children in St Joseph’s, but from across Milngavie.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The First Minister has asked the Minister for Learning and Skills, Dr Alasdair Allan, to continue to engage with them as they work on their proposal for the school.”