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Highland's two-year rule sets out a benchmark

Highland Council, of which Mr Peacock was convener before he entered national politics, gives a school and its community two years to reverse population decline, after which it takes a final decision on closure.

"This is in recognition of the fact that rolls can fluctuate in small schools as families move in and out," Bruce Robertson, director of education, says.

The council currently has six "mothballed" schools, four of which have reached the two-year mark and its education committee will consider what to do next month. At least one of the other two, Altnaharra in Sutherland (below), has seen people move into the area.

Mike Watson, a former Executive minister, told the petitions committee that Highland's approach set a benchmark.

The committee agreed to ask the Executive if it is the kind of model ministers would endorse.

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