Early return by Dornoch

15th January 1999 at 00:00
SCOTLAND'S only self-governing secondary is likely to be back under local authority control by August. Highland is to open talks with the school's board of management without waiting for the Government to revoke the opting-out legislation.

The school opted out in 1994 because parents were dismayed at the failure of a campaign to upgrade it from a two-year to six-year secondary. They did not want pupils to continue travelling the 11 miles to Golspie High. Dornoch now has 158 pupils, the most senior in S5. The likely roll once a sixth year is added will be between 180 and 220.

Bruce Robertson, Highland's director of education, said in a report:

"Informal discussions with the board have reached a position where they have confirmed that they are 'very keen to continue negotiations about coming back to council management'."

The Secretary of State will be asked to produce regulations enabling the return to council control. That will be done under the Self-Governing Schools Act which Labour intends repealing after the Holyrood parliament is under way. The catchment area of the "new" Dornoch will have to be delineated.

No similar change of status is planned for the only other opted-out school, St Mary's primary in Dunblane. A statement from Stirling Council says there are no moves so far to resume control. A third school, Fort William primary, was in the process of opting out at the time of the 1997 general election. The new Government announced that there would be no more self-governing schools, and so Fort William stayed with Highland.

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