This 'evidence' does not speak for itself

12th June 2009 at 01:00

I'd like to express my serious concern about inaccurate information given to a meeting of the parliamentary education committee last month by Sandy Longmuir, chairman of the Scottish Rural Schools Network.

According to your report (May 22), he cited Tomintoul Primary, in Moray, "which was proposed for closure until it received a damning HMlE report in 2006", while lnveravon Primary, "although eventually saved, remained on the council's closure list despite having an outstanding report".

Mr Longmuir is quoted as stating: "Moray Council's reaction was to remove (Tomintoul) from the closure consultation, because it could not possibly close it when it was that bad."

This is inaccurate in a number of ways. First of all, the initial stages of consultation on our school estate strategy very quickly identified Tomintoul as a school which, due to its geographical location, was required and therefore it no longer featured as part of the school estate discussions. It had nothing whatsoever to do with an HMlE report.

Second, naming lnveravon Primary (pictured) as remaining on a closure consultation despite receiving one of the best HMlE reports in Moray Council is also somewhat wide of the mark.

The success or otherwise of a school was only one factor being considered in relation to the consultation on our school estate. lnveravon was included because it had significant under-occupancy and was projected to have a falling roll leading to it becoming a single teacher school.

After a stage one review process, the council decided to retain lnveravon, taking due account of the consultation responses. Its roll has indeed continued to fall as predicted; the school will only have 17 pupils in August 2009 (compared with 24 in August 2008) and, therefore, will be a single-teacher school.

Finally, your report quotes Mr Longmuir as indicating that the proposed closure of Cabrach Primary in Moray was "supported by the network since it could not see the community growing". This, again, is something of a surprise to us, given that the Scottish Rural Schools Network appeared to us to be silent on this issue.

All in all, Mr Longmuir's "evidence" is at best questionable, and at worst fundamentally flawed.

Alistair Farquhar, head of educational resource services, Moray Council.

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