A reprieve could be on the cards for schools

Emma Seith

The council prevented from closing four schools by the education secretary is on track to have them all shut by the end of the month. However, a last-minute reprieve could be on the cards.

Last week Western Isles Council won a judicial review of a decision by the Scottish government to prevent it from closing Shelibost Primary on Harris and Carloway Primary and the S1-2 provision at Shawbost and Lionel schools on Lewis. And on Tuesday the council's education and children's services committee voted to push ahead with the closures.

The schools could still be saved from closure, however, as the committee's decision has to be ratified by the full council on Thursday.

Anything could happen, predicted council leader Angus Campbell. Opinion was split at the education committee meeting, with the convener casting the deciding vote, he pointed out.

"We have 13 new councillors this time, so it's quite a different scenario to 2010 when the decision to close was first made," he said.

Council leader Angus Campbell acknowledged that it was hard for staff, pupils and parents to be told their schools would be closing three weeks before the end of term. However, if the council failed to push ahead it would be in a "very weak position legally", he believed.

The council had originally hoped to shut the schools by August last year. Keeping them open for an extra year had cost around pound;800,000, Mr Campbell estimated.

One flaw in the government's approach, identified by the Court of Session judge, Lord Brailsford, was that if ministers called in a school closure, they were obliged to consider each proposal and "determine that matter on its merits", not just the process.

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

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