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'Choice' for Highlands

The Highlands, the only area of the country without a fee-paying school, is set to get an independent coeducational secondary next year in Inverness. A group of parents will hold a public meeting in the town next month to gauge support. The target roll is 200.

The group, which wants to maintain anonymity until a decision is made and which operates through a firm of solicitors in Nairn, says that it has been in touch with Val MacIver, chairman of Highland Council's education committee, and Allan Gilchrist, the council's director of education.

A spokeswoman said: "We want to provide choice." The group includes a solicitor, an accountant, two businessmen, a former headteacher of an independent school and a housewife.

The Highland Independent School Association, formed in 1995, says that parents should be able to choose an independent day school in the Highlands. Boarding school can cost Pounds 12,000 a year whereas the Inverness school, for which a site has already been obtained, would charge less than Pounds 5,000. "Incomes in the Highlands are lower than the national average," the spokeswoman said.

The group says schools run by Highland "do an excellent job" but face rising class sizes and cuts in funding.

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