Protection for Scotland's rural schools
The SNP Government has today launched plans to protect Scotland's rural schools from closure.
A new bill on Schools Consultations will include specific steps that will protect Scotland's rural schools and help to boost rural communities. It will also enhance the consultation that has to take place before schools can be closed or before major changes take place in local schools.
Launching the bill Cabinet Secretary for Education Fiona Hyslop said;
"By focusing on rural schools, we are also helping to safeguard a way of life."
"The Bill will update and strengthen the consultation procedures that local authorities apply to all school closures and other major changes to schools.
"In the case of rural schools specifically, the authorities would also have to have special regard to alternatives to closure, the likely impact on the community, including use of the buildings, and the likely impact on the environment of new travel requirements."
The move has been welcomed by SNP MSPs Aileen Campbell and Alasdair Allan.
Dr Allan, who has campaigned successfully against rural school closures in the Western Isles said;
“I believe that access to a local school is particularly important in rural communities, not least in places like the Western Isles, where schools are at the very heart of a community.
"This bill will help enshrine that principle in law and I am pleased that it is an SNP Government which is delivering this policy.”
Education Committee member and South of Scotland SNP Aileen Campbell said;
I welcome these moves by the Scottish Government to meet yet another of the SNP’s manifesto commitments and look forward to Parliamentary support for this bill.
“Cost alone should not be allowed to be a factor in the future of rural schools. T he educational needs of a rural area, transport, pupil welfare and the economic effects of closing a small school on a rural area, should also be considered.
‘If we want to encourage people to come to live and work in our most fragile communities we must provide schools within the local community for them to send their children to.