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Cluster changes

By Fiona Reid
Cluster changes

EIGHT primary schools in Annandale and five in Nithsdale are set to be put into new partnerships.

Education officials have been reviewing the cluster arrangements currently in operation locally and they have announced some changes.

It means St Columba’s and Brydekirk will be split up, with the Annan school being paired with Cummertrees instead, while Brydekirk will go with Hoddom.

Collin and Carrutherstown will be partnered up; and Eaglesfield and Hottsbridge will go from being in a trio with Hoddom to being just a duo.

Furthermore, the trio of Hardgate, Lochrutton and Springholm will be split up and instead, Shawhead will pair with Lochrutton; while Hardgate will be teamed with Springholm.

Also affected will be Holywood and St Teresa’s RC, which will be joined together will a shared head.

‘Engagement’ will now be carried out with those affected by the moves, including pupils, parents and staff.

However, council officials have stressed that this will not be a consultation exercise.

And they say the ‘key messages’ are that the

changes will have no negative impact upon the learning and teaching experience of pupils; that headteachers will have more time to dedicate to the strategic management of the schools in their charge; and that the changes are solely aimed at improving the experiences of all children, regardless of the size and location of their school and is not a cost saving exercise.

It is expected the new arrangements will be in place for August 2022.

Members of the education committee will consider the issue at their meeting next week and in a report for councillors, head of education John Thin said: “This proposed solution allows for both the partnering of the schools that have remained outwith a partnership arrangement or left unpartnered as a result of a closure elsewhere, and also removes three triple partnerships.”

In future all partnerships across the region will be monitored to ensure the roll of each school (including nursery roll, where applicable) should not exceed 100. A school will be removed from a partnership arrangement if their roll consistently exceeds 100.

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