On rural school 'anomalies'

I feel obliged to respond to the comments of Sandy Longmuir of the Scottish Rural Schools Network (Letters, 26 April). I should state that I was a member of the Commission on the Delivery of Rural Education.

The figures that appeared in the commission's final report were compiled by officers from Scottish Borders Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in an open and transparent manner, with regular checks on the validity of the process by the commission's advisers, officers of the Civil Service and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

The figures in the commission's report were adjusted, after discussion with the Comhairle, to ensure the very comparability which was the whole purpose of the exercise. The commission was assured, after wider discussions with representatives from the rural schools network, that the figures from Scottish Borders and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar were comparable and accurate.

The Comhairle, not surprisingly, did not acquiesce to the schools network's assertions that the figures represented "errors" or "anomalies", since the Comhairle does not believe this to be the case. The fact that the commission "acquiesced to the demands of the council", rather than being seen as a result of a sinister motive, may be explained by the fact that the commission accepted that the comments of the Comhairle were entirely reasonable.

I would suggest that the rural schools network address itself to arguments on the merits of the report, rather than criticising evidence provided by councils in good faith, and checked by the advisers to the commission.

Malcolm Burr, chief executive, Western Isles Council.

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