School closures, tell it like it is

3rd November 2006 at 00:00
welcome reminder in the latest spats over school closures is that one should not adopt the stance of "never mind the quality, feel the width"

(page 3). To be fair to the Accounts Commission, and it is necessary to be fair to them, they have not taken the fundamentalist line that a school is only viable when it is full. This would, in any case, be an untenable position, given the large numbers of very small schools offering a very high quality of education in rural Scotland.

We also have to be fair to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities which is urging its member councils to base closure decisions on thorough research, transparent purposes, good communications and parental involvement. Now there's an inspired idea.

The trouble with closing schools is that attempts to use educational justifications when the impulses are usually financial are never going to convince anybody. Parents do not usually wish to be taken for fools, so perhaps the answer is to stop using educational arguments and tell it like it is. After all, if all small schools were to be treated as educationally suspect, rural Scotland would shut down.

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