Process for Scotland School Shutdown to be outlined

This will seem somewhat strange given that the Scottish education system is clearly the strongest in the UK, but the process of closing schools has been criticised for not being particularly transparent.

The Scottish government said it wants to make sure parents and communities are better informed and can take part in decision making.

Planned changes include clarifying the presumption against closing rural schools. Clear financial information will also have to be made available on the case for shutting a school.

The move is a response to the recommendations of the Commission on the Delivery of Rural Education.

The changes include: clarifying the presumption against the closure of rural schools, requiring clear financial information to be set out for a school closure proposal, and allowing ministers to draw on additional advice from Education Scotland when they’re considering closure proposals. It was also confirmed that councils will still need to demonstrate how a closure proposal may benefit a child’s education.

The government ran a consultation on its proposed changes over the summer. Education Secretary Mike Russell said: “This was a valuable consultation, allowing local authorities, parents, communities and others with an interest in this area to express their views. Responses to the consultation broadly supported the changes to the law proposed by the Scottish government. Our commitment to making these changes to the consultation process for school closures underlines the government’s belief that education authorities must give extremely careful consideration to a range of matters when bringing forward any closure proposal. I am absolutely determined that educational benefit should remain an important part of any proposal – and I am convinced these amendments we will bring forward will ensure this remains central to the decision-making process.”

Sandy Longmuir from the campaigning group the Scottish Rural Schools Network welcomed the proposed changes. He said: “The information a decision is based on should be the best possible. We’ve got so many examples (in the past) where the information put forward was quite simply wrong.”

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