Glasgow leads first wave of closures

5th April 1996 at 01:00
Three of the largest new councils have moved immediately to cut surplus school places by formally announcing plans to close 27 primaries and six secondaries, saving almost Pounds 5 million in the coming year.

The total of closures is likely to rise following statutory consultations in Glasgow, Dundee and Highland. All three councils want to close targeted schools at the summer break. Rockwell High in Dundee has become the first to try to thwart the process by seeking a ballot on opting out of council control. Others may follow.

Glasgow's education committee on Monday ratified consultations on closing 17 primaries and four secondaries, although a decision on fire-ravaged Garthamlock Secondary has been postponed.

The council is to open discussions on transferring the neighbouring primary into Garthamlock's buildings.

Glasgow still plans to relocate Bellarmine Secondary in the vacant Craigbank Secondary building, despite building costs of more than Pounds 2 million.

As The TES Scotland indicated three years ago, there are plans to enlarge Holyrood Secondary to a roll of 2,400 by absorbing the 300-pupil John Bosco Secondary, which has once already successfully challenged previous closure plans under Strathclyde Region. Glasgow wants to build an extension on the Holyrood site at a cost of more than Pounds 2 million but would continue to use the John Bosco buildings in a split-site operation.

St Gerard's Secondary in Govan is again up for merger with Lourdes Secondary despite a successful challenge in the courts over previous closure plans. The Government was subsequently forced to amend regulations on opting out to prevent a series of rolling ballots.

Current plans for rationalisation have yet to win the full backing of the Roman Catholic Church, four of whose secondaries are under threat despite the churches insistence on a suitable geographic spread. But proposals to leave the south side of the city with four major secondaries are welcomed.

The education committee in Dundee agreed on Tuesday to consult on closing three primaries and two secondaries. It has withdrawn plans for West March primary. Rockwell High's school board has initiated the process for balloting, but the council has agreed to continue discussions on its future. Overall, the target saving this year is Pounds 1.6 million.

Highland targeted seven primaries and a hostel on Wednesday. But the council has agreed to soften the blow by earmarking 50 per cent of capital receipts for the education service. It is hoped to save Pounds 232,000 this year with a further Pounds 580,000 on maintenance costs.

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