Rural school closure plans

22nd March 2013 at 00:00

We write on behalf of Baldernock Primary School Parent Council following the publication of a report by IBP Strategy and Research on East Dunbartonshire Council's (EDC) primary school estate.

This divisive and flawed "informal consultation", published ahead of a vote by EDC councillors on 27 March on closuresmergers, has produced no surprises.

EDC is forcing communities to choose between schools. The survey found 95 per cent of responses from Baldernock parents are against closure. There is no option to keep Baldernock Primary, a small rural school outside Milngavie, open.

Perhaps it would have made a difference if respondents had been told EDC receives around #163;2,700 per pupil in extra grant funding for the school, a school with under 70 pupils. This funding (which EDC has said it could borrow against) of #163;116K per annum will be lost if the school closes.

EDC should be working to bring costs down at Baldernock. In the past decade, its energy efficiency measures amounted to reducing the temperature by 2 degrees and resisting installing insulation. An FoI response revealed a maintenance spend of #163;755 per annum. In the report, the defence for including Baldernock Primary in the consultation during an agreed moratorium on rural school closures is poor.

The Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010 gives rural schools extra protection so "the burden of the current financial squeeze is disproportionately borne by larger, urban schools". This doesn't mean we would support other schools being closed. There are cost-effective alternatives, such as refurbishment.

We await the findings of the Commission on the Delivery of Rural Education and hope it will recognise the contribution small rural schools can make and support the legislation's intentions that "the need for educational benefit is the driving force and the sole motivation behind each and every proposed school closure" (education secretary Michael Russell).

This is clearly not the case in East Dunbartonshire Council.

Baldernock Primary Parent Council.

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