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Halt mothballing of schools

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Halt mothballing of schools

THE trend towards mothballing schools in Dumfries and Galloway could have “critically damaging consequences” for rural communities, a councillor has warned.

Dee and Glenkens Councillor Dougie Campbell is extremely concerned about the future of closure-threatened Dalry Secondary and other high schools which may be affected further down the line.

Worried about the impact that mothballing these schools could have on pupils, parents and wider communities where the schools are located, Councillor Campbell is calling for Dumfries and Galloway Council to put some proper policies in place around this issue.

He will also table a motion at next week’s full council meeting calling for an immediate halt to mothballing of secondary schools.

Councillor Dougie Campbell said: “I really hope fellow councillors will support this motion and see for themselves the damaging impact mothballing could have on pupils, parents and communities where secondary schools are located.

“Not least Dalry Secondary, which is based in a remote part of the region where people already feel under siege from cuts to services.

“With school rolls falling regionwide, Dalry Secondary is the first to be threatened by closure, so we need to make sure we get this right, have a robust, transparent policy in place, and that alternative options for education provision are explored in consultation with affected communities whose future wellbeing has to be embedded in the decisions we take.”

Numerous primary schools in the region have been mothballed – temporarily closed but with no decision on the building’s future – due to falling school rolls.

Education chiefs insist that this action is necessary because the region is currently experiencing a “significant and sustained fall in pupil numbers”, with the National Records of Scotland predicting a further 18 percent fall in the 0-15 age group over the next 10 years.

However, Councillor Campbell is aiming to stop mothballing of secondary schools in its tracks until full and meaningful consultation takes place with parents and pupils, and until the potential longer term consequences for communities is properly understood.

His motion has been seconded by SNP councillor Andy McFarlane, and he is hoping to get cross-party support from other elected members.

The motion reads: “Dumfries and Galloway Council does not currently have a member approved, secondary school mothballing policy, despite a previously intended report with recommendation to mothball Dalry Secondary School, to the education and learning committee on March 14.

“Members agree that the mothballing or closure of a rural secondary school is likely to have critically damaging consequences for equitable education provision in rural communities and, the wider socio-economic wellbeing of affected communities.

“As a consequence, members recognise the need for extensive and meaningful community consultation with parents, pupils, school parent councils, community councils, and other community bodies with a stake hold in local secondary education provision.

“While members note that school rolls are falling regionwide, detailed consideration of community impact is essential prior to a recommendation to mothball any secondary school.

“This should include engagement with the wider community on potential innovative and, alternative models and means for secondary level education provision, and also how to mitigate and manage any changes in provision.”

  • Tundergarth School, above, has been mothballed

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