St Conval's survives despite roll of 189

7th June 1996 at 01:00
The 189-pupil St Conval's High in Cumnock, one of the smallest six-year schools in Scotland, is not out of the woods yet despite last week's decision by East Ayrshire Council to reprieve it. The closure of five primaries will go ahead from the end of this session, however, although the fate of two is in the hands of the Secretary of State.

The council's move to spare St Conval's was based largely on the excessive distance to St Joseph's Academy in Kilmarnock, the nearest Catholic secondary, which is 15 miles away. Its future may now be linked to the local non-denominational school.

A study group including parent, church and local authority representatives is to be set up to plan for the future. The council believes the school is too small to offer a viable curriculum, but this is disputed by the school board and staff.

John Mulgrew, East Ayrshire's director of education, said the group's remit was "to strengthen Catholic education". It would look at the range of courses in fifth and sixth years and at other ways of providing a Catholic education.

Alternatives could include the creation of a school with an age range of 10-16 and the possibility of closer links with Cumnock Academy, which is a four-minute walk away.

A further strain on East Ayrshire's Pounds 55 million education budget is the the Pounds 500,000 that must be spent on essential maintenance over the next three years. Mr Mulgrew has also warned that the level of support staff inherited from Strathclyde could not be sustained.

The primary schools whose closures were confirmed last week are St Paul's in Hurlford, Crookedholm near Kilmarnock and Grougar in Moscow. St Thomas' in Muirkirk and St Claire's in Sinclairston are also on the list but the Secretary of State has to give approval as both are more than five miles from the nearest alternatives.

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