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Glasgow calls for time out on school closures

AN ambitious programme of school closures in Glasgow has stalled amid extensive consultation on the shape of primary education. Charlie Gordon, the city council's Labour leader, has opted not to proceed immediately with a further round of rationalisation despite pressure from the education service.

Mr Gordon is believed to want a united local authority approach to closures and refurbishment through the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. Council leaders are pressing for more flexibility over public private partnership schemes that are still viewed as the key route for delivering new builds and repairs.

Headteachers, in particular, are keen to see problems tackled sooner rather than later. Rolls of some city schools have fallen below 50 pupils. Estimates suggest up to 50 schools could close to ensure the viability of the remainder over the next decade, when the total pupil roll is expected to fall by a further 10per cent. There are currently more than 40,000 pupils in 200 buildings with occupancy rates in some under 20 per cent, rising to 100 per cent in others. The backlog of repairs stands at more than pound;100 million for the primary sector and is certain to increase. One official said: "These are problems that do not go away."

Meanwhile a best value review of primary education, including the buildings and curriculum, is progressing slowly after more than a year of investigation.

Willie Hart, Educational Institute of Scotland local secretary, said: "If there is a political decision that there will be no comprehensive review of primary education provision in Glasgow, it's absolutely clear there will have to be resources found to bring a number of schools up to proper standards of accommodation.

"We would also emphasise that any programme of closures should not be a cuts exercise but an exercise in reinvestment."

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