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Closure agreed of village school

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Lockerbie and Lochmaben
Closure agreed of village school

THE closure of a school near Lockerbie has moved another step closer after councillors agreed to progress with plans for shutting the building.

Hutton Primary, at Boreland, has been mothballed for three-and-a-half years due to low pupil numbers. Pupils and teaching staff were amalgamated with Applegarth Primary until a permanent decision was taken on Hutton’s future.

At Dumfries and Galloway Council’s education committee last week, councillors approved moving to the statutory consultation process for the permanent closure of the school.

However, questions were asked around the provision of school transport for pupils in the Hutton Primary catchment area who are travelling to Applegarth for classes.

Annandale North Councillor Carolyne Wilson, who attended all the public meetings in Boreland Village Hall on Hutton Primary School’s future, said: “I wanted to ask about transport for the children who are attending Applegarth now.

“I think I’m right in saying they’re entitled to school transport, but I’ve had a couple of families contacting me saying they’re having issues getting school transport.

“And I’m just wondering what will happen with the school catchment area now for Applegarth. Will it include the Hutton catchment area? Because that’s quite a vast area.”

John Thin, the council’s head of education for learning and resources, said: “We understand there have been some challenges with regards to the availability of some transport, and I know that the school transport team have provided financial payments to those who weren’t able to get a taxi or a minibus.

“In terms of the realignment of the catchment area, that’s what the purpose of the consultation will be.

“You’re absolutely right – it is a very large catchment area now because it also picks up on where we once had a school at Eskdalemuir, and others previous to that.

“Through that consultation process – if members accept recommendations – we will be very much looking at that in its entirety. That’s to make those decisions with the communities about what is the best way we divide up that catchment to make sure we don’t negatively impact families who are living within that area as much as we possibly can.”

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