SNP defector says school must close

30th May 1997 at 01:00
The education vice-convener who has resigned amid continuing tensions in the ruling Scottish National Party on Angus Council has backed the closure of the 40-pupil secondary department at Newtyle School, the last remaining 5-14 school on mainland Scotland.

Wallie Leask, a public administration lecturer at Dundee College, has temporarily become an Independent councillor and will stand down in July. Mr Leask cited family and work pressures, although he admits to "differences" with former colleagues. He told The TES Scotland he was now free to speak about the threatened closure that was revealed by the council immediately after the general election.

Labour-controlled Dundee had accused the SNP of masking the closure in a bid to secure the North Tayside parliamentary seat. Newtyle parents can opt to send their children to Harris Academy in the city, although the council is to carry out a review of catchment areas.

Mr Leask said: "I cannot see the any good educational reason for keeping Newtyle open. For the greatest good of education in Angus this anomaly has to be ended. It has been dragging on for 10 years." The cost per pupil was six to seven times more than for other Angus pupils and parents had three other secondaries to choose from. It was "elitist" to continue the small department, Mr Leask said.

He argues that council leaders should admit cost is a factor, something they had been reluctant to do during often heated consultation with parents. Mr Leask confesses to "a slight difference of emphasis on how you handle presentation of an argument" and believes the closure remains in balance.

* The Roman Catholic Church is considering legal action against West Lothian over the closure of Holy Family primary, Winchburgh, and St Columba's primary, Boghall. The council agreed to close Almondbank primary, Livingston.

* The likely return to council control of the opted-out St Mary's Episcopal primary in Dunblane has helped to reprieve Inversnaid primary on Loch Lomond as Stirling last week decided to await a review of primary provision after St Mary's returns to the fold.

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