Falling rolls put more than 60 Glasgow primaries at risk

21st September 2001 at 01:00
SMALL primaries in Glasgow with rolls of fewer than 150 pupils are to be targeted for possible closure by the city council in one of the most radical overhauls of primary education ever seen in Britain.

A "best value" report to be discussed by the education services committee next Thursday does not put a figure on the preferred number of primary schools. But it makes it clear that smaller schools, which it defines as those with fewer than 150 pupils, are increasingly unpopular with parents, are achieving fewer of their targets compared with larger ones and often lock pupils into local neighbourhoods.

The report spells out the legacy the council faces: the number of schools with fewer than 150 pupils will grow from 28 in 1994 to 63 now and 81 by 2006, as the primary pupil population is set to drop by more than 12,000 in that period.

In the past 30 years, pupil numbers have fallen by more than 60 per cent while the number of primaries closed has declined by just 8 per cent.

Bob Gray, the council's education convener, declared: "This is not about closing schools." But Mr Gray said it was about making the best use of resources and taking account of population changes while ensuring primary schools raised pupils' attainment and contributed to the council's key regeneration policies for the city.

The report backs what Mr Gray commends as an "exciting" vision of a pre-12 sector combining pre-five centres, primary schools and special needs provision. The council will now draw up an action plan and run a series of pilots initially involving the smallest schools and those in "distressed" buildings.

It hopes to see "pre-12 campuses" within the decade, backed by major investment through a public private partnership. The Education Minister will give full details of Executive funding for PPP schemes before the end of next April.

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