Earlier this month, both the Scottish Government and our administration in East Lothian declared that we would engage in a review of rural schools. At the same time, I am aware of a concern that, with discussions ongoing over shared services between East Lothian and Midlothian within the education and children's services departments, there may be moves afoot to close East Lothian rural schools. Such a rumour is entirely without foundation.
At no stage, have I or my colleagues considered such an option. Quite the reverse. We are implementing measures, for example shared headships, that will secure the future of rural schools. We prize our schools as an integral part of what makes East Lothian life special, and I fully support Education Secretary Mike Russell in his zeal to protect rural schools across the length and breadth of Scotland.
East Lothian is an interesting area geographically in that, while it has a large rural extent, even our villages in the Lammermuir foothills are, in truth, not very remote. A 15- or 20-minute journey will usually take us to a community of some size. That does not, however, mean that we wish in any way to undermine the distinct rural environment characterised by a local school at the heart of these villages.
Rural school pupils get an outstanding education in East Lothian. This will continue, whether or not we engage in shared services with a neighbouring authority.
Peter MacKenzie, chair, education committee, East Lothian Council.