The Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010 came into force earlier this year and has already been subject to criticism about how well it protects rural schools from unnecessary closure proposals.
In a welcome move, Cabinet Secretary for Education, Mike Russell MSP has clarified the Scottish Government’s intentions in this area:
“Where an alternative to closure meets the educational needs of the children, the parents, the teachers and – in these financially difficult times – the council, we will ensure it is fully explored.
“We will work with communities, local authorities and stakeholders on fresh mandatory guidance that makes it clear to councils that they must consider all viable alternatives to closure – regardless of the source. They must listen to, examine, test and – when it holds water – accept any plan that a community brings forward to save a rural school.
“If a council fails to do so, I will not hesitate to call those plans in and halt those closures until all practical alternatives have been fully examined”