School’s out for ever

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THE fight to save Motherwell’s Calder Primary from the axe is over after North Lanarkshire Council’s decision to close the school was rubber-stamped by Scottish Government ministers last week.

Campaigners had been hoping that the ministers’ decision to ‘call in’ the council proposals because of concerns on the effect on children’s education would lead to a u-turn.

But their hopes of a lifeline were dashed last week when Scottish Ministers granted consent for the council to proceed with the closure of the school and nursery class at the end of the current session.

The 106-year-old school will close its doors for the last time on Thursday, June 27, with pupils being relocated after the summer holidays to either Muir Street Primary or Glencairn Primary.

Following the announcement council learning and leisure services convener Jim Logue - who had blasted the ministers’ call-in move as being politically motivated - said the focus would now be on ensuring that the best possible transition programme is put together for the children.

In addition to having concerns about the educational benefits of the move, parents of Caldser pupils have also expressed fears over the suitability of facilities at Muir Street.

They claim that existing road safety issues will be exacerbated by an influx of pupils from Calder Primary.

But Councillor Logue insisted: “It is vital that the youngsters are familiar with their new school environments, teachers and new classmates to give them the best possible start in their new schools.

“Understandably, Scottish Ministers sought assurances that we carry out work at Muir Street Primary School and we will ensure this is done for the start of the new school session 2013/14.

“In their letter, they informed us that they are content the proposal will provide educational benefits to the children concerned.

“They also agreed that the council can fulfil its statutory duties in regard to putting the necessary transition arrangements in place for children, including arrangements for children with additional support needs, from Calder Primary School and the receiving schools at Muir Street and Glencairn.”

Parent Karen McKinstry, who was at the forefront of the campaign to save the school, said: “I am devastated at this decision.

“I would like to know what educational benefits the nursery and schoolchildren will get from Calder closing.

“The Scottish Government were unsure of any benefits - so what have the council told them to change their mind?

“What concerns me is if the adaptations to Muir Street are not complete in time and Calder has closed, where do the kids go?

“I fear the kids will be taught in a building zone.”

Letters were issued to parents this week advising that the council will be proceeding with the closure of the school and nursery class. Further information on which school children will be transferring to and what transport arrangements will be available will also be sent out in the near future.