Clarity on Tomintoul and Cabrach schools

10th July 2009 at 01:00

Alistair Farquhar's criticism of the evidence I gave to the Scottish Parliament's education committee (TESS, June 12) seems to centre on two main areas of concern.

First, I linked the exceptionally poor HMIE report on Tomintoul Primary in November 2006 and the decision of Moray Council in December 2006 to remove it from a review of the school estate. Mr Farquhar states: "It had nothing whatsoever to do with an HMIE report."

This is somewhat at odds with Moray Council's own minutes of the first educational services meeting after publication of the report. These clearly indicate that the report was the driver behind the decisions to replace the headteacher at Tomintoul and to withdraw the school from the review, guaranteeing its existence for the foreseeable future.

Just in case there was any doubt about the link between the HMIE report on Tomintoul and these decisions, Moray Council issued a press release the same day which commented on the agreed course of action: "These steps have been taken in direct response to parental concern over the stability of the school following a number of staff changes and the recent HMI report."

Second, Mr Farquhar says my comment about the stated position of the Scottish Rural Schools Network on Cabrach Primary came as "something of a surprise" as we appeared to be "silent on this issue". My colleague Charles Bestwick and I both gave Moray Firth Radio interviews on the subject. And on February 29, 2008, Dr Bestwick had a lengthy letter published in the Northern Scot, stating our network's position on Cabrach. Much of the letter praises the council and refers to meetings members of SRSN had with council officials and elected members.

Sandy Longmuir, chairman, Scottish Rural Schools Network.

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