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Why pay pupils toopt out?

Glasgow, another city with boundary trouble, is being urged to review its "bizarre" policy of paying for pupils to travel to schools in a neighbouring authority at the same time as one of its own schools is threatened with closure.

Action groups in the Easterhouse area want secondary pupils from Baillieston and Garrowhill who attend St Ambrose High, Coatbridge, in North Lanarkshire, to switch to St Leonard's Secondary whose 500 pupils would go to St Andrew's Secondary in Carntyne three miles away.

An estimated 500 children from two Baillieston primaries travel by bus and train to North Lanarkshire some using passes issued by Glasgow. Parents say that at a total cost of pound;60,000 a year pupils should not be subsidised to travel to another council's school. Kevin Sweeney, principal English teacher at St Leonard's, says: "The authority is in an absurd and bizarre position."

The council plans to regenerate Easterhouse and get rid of the "stigma" associated with it, Mr Sweeney says, and encouraging local children to attend St Leonard's should be part of these moves.

The St Leonard's school board says some of the pupils who commute are within walking distance of the Easterhouse school. "As far as we understand it, the travel passes are discretionary and the authority is not obliged to provide them," Peter Hennessy, the school board chairperson, commented.

George Gardner, Glasgow's depute director of education, said the travel arrangements for the Baillieston pupils complied with the normal regulations and the two primaries involved had been associated with Coatbridge for some time. "There are no current plans to review the procedures," Mr Gardner said, "and no changes can be made without formal consultations taking place."

St Leonard's parents have been joined by their intended partners at St Andrew's Secondary in rejecting the amalgamation proposals, part of Glasgow's blueprint to close at least eight secondaries in an investment programme worth pound;71 million over five years.

The city's ruling Labour group is due to meet on February 9 to discuss the outcome of the city-wide consultations.

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