Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Primary school amalgamation proposals go to formal consultation

Argyll and Bute councillors have voted to consult formally on eleven primary school amalgamation proposals.

The council has 80 primary schools, with the capacity for around 11,500 pupils. Currently there are approximately 5,500 vacant places and predictions show the number of vacancies is expected to increase.

School rolls have reduced to unsustainable levels in a number of areas and the council’s proposals focus on the educational benefit for pupils at those schools.

At the same time some school buildings need huge investment to bring them up to an appropriate standard.

The cost of educating pupils in Argyll and Bute ranges from £3,000 per pupil per year to almost £30,000 per pupil per year.

The following proposals are now subject to a period of statutory consultation:

· St Kieran’s Primary School to Castlehill Primary School

· Ardchonnel Primary School to Dalmally / Kilmartin Primary Schools

· Toward Primary School to Inellan Primary School

· Skipness Primary School to Tarbert Academy

· Clachan Primary School to Tarbert Academy

· Rhunahaorine Primary School to Glenbarr Primary School

· Minard Primary School to Furnace Primary School

· North Bute Primary School to Rothesay Joint Campus

· Luss Primary School to Hermitage Primary School

· Achaleven Primary School to Dunbeg Primary School

· Ardchatten Primary School to Lochnell Primary School

The council agreed not to take forward to formal consultation the proposals to merge Ashfield Primary School with either Tayvallich Primary School or Lochgilphead Joint Campus.

Councillors rejected a proposal to amalgamate Minard Primary School with Lochgilphead Joint Campus, preferring the alternative option to amalgamate Minard Primary School with Furnace Primary School.

And councillors also rejected a proposal to amalgamate Achaleven Primary School with Lochnell Primary School, preferring the alternative option to amalgamate Achaleven Primary School with Dunbeg Primary School.

Councillor Ellen Morton, spokesperson for education and lifelong learning said:

“Argyll and Bute Council is committed to providing a quality education for all of its school children. If we are going to provide an equitable and sustainable education for all then we have to make sure our resources are used to the best effect.

“Running schools which are half full or less and where predictions show the roll is likely to decrease is not a sustainable position. These are not easy decisions to make and I understand that those communities which are directly affected are not in favour of the proposals but we have to take a long term view and consider education in the whole of Argyll and Bute.

“If agreed, these proposals will have a direct impact on 137 pupils, in the schools that may close. We have around 5800 primary school children and we must consider how to deliver the best education for all of them.

“We have already held pre-consultation meetings with communities and have included their comments in our proposals. Everyone now has a further opportunity to have their say as part of the formal consultation process before further decisions are made by council in October.”