We do not believe that further regulation to protect rural schools, as proposed in the Government's consultation paper, is the way forward.
The evidence shows that giving parents and communities more autonomy in running schools would save many rural schools. In other countries, such as Sweden and the Netherlands, parents are able to set up their own schools and rather than schools closing in rural areas, more are being established.
Such a system is not a guarantee that no school will ever close. Even the Government's consultation paper accepts that some will inevitably close. However, an education system where parents and communities have more control will ensure that no popular school closes against their wishes.
Passing legislation to prevent rural schools being closed is simply a sticking plaster. The best way to ensure that schools stay open is to give parents power to choose where they send their child and make it far easier to set up new schools.
Alison Payne, research director, Reform Scotland.