MSP intervenes over Skye school closure plans

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Skye and Lochalsh MSP David Thompson has written to the chief executive of Highland Council voicing his concerns about the potential closure of three north Skye primary schools.

Mr Thompson referred to allegations that the council brought forward its consultation into the closure of schools at Edinbane, Struan and Knockbreck to avoid complying with new legislation designed to make shutting rural schools much harder. Last week, he wrote to chief executive Steve Barron with his concerns.

He said: “I appreciate that tough decisions sometimes have to be made in order to meet budgetary restraints. However, there is a community need for these schools in Skye. Therefore, I am writing to seek assurances that the new legislation regarding the presumption against rural school closure and the requirements in relation to rural school closure has been applied in this case.

“Whilst costs in financial terms can be measured and the cost in educational terms cannot, it does not make the latter any less important, so I hope you appreciate the thought processes that necessitated this letter.”

Mr Thompson also sent the letter to Michael Russell, cabinet secretary for education.

A council spokeswoman said Mr Barron would send a response in due course.

 

Initially, the council said they would begin their consultation in August this year, but that was brought forward at short notice to May. The new legislation, the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, came into force on 1st August.

The council’s proposals — which include the provision of a new primary school in Dunvegan — are to be considered by the adult and children’s services committee on 12th November and by the full council the following month.