THE controversial closure by North Lanarkshire Council of Motherwell’s Calder Primary School has been ‘called in’ for determination by the Scottish Government.
Ministers have told the council that they cannot implement the closure, planned for this summer, until they have studied the plan to determine whether they felt it should go ahead.
In particular ministers say concerns raised by Education Scotland about the educational benefits of closing the school and nursery and moving pupils to Muir Street or Glencairn Primary may not have been addressed satisfactorily.
Ministers have also suggested more detail is needed from the council on how it plans to support pupils during the transition process and there is also concern that building and adaptation works proposed for Muir Street may not be comnpleted in time for the start of next session.
The move will be welcomed by parents fighting to keep the school open, but council learning and leisure services convener Jim Logue claimed the call-in was driven political considerations rather than the educational interests of puoils.
He said: “We are not particularly surprised by the Scottish Government’s decision to call-in the school rationalisation proposals.
“Clearly this has been driven by political considerations rather than in the best educational interests of the young people currently attending the schools concerned.
“This decision is indicative of an increasingly dictatorial approach from Scottish Ministers in local government matters
“The fundamental reasons behind these proposals have not altered. The schools are hugely under occupied and, as an educational authority, we have already seen the benefits of merging under-occupied secondary and primary schools and providing pupils with wider educational opportunities.
“To be clear, this is not solely about money, although we cannot continue to heat, light and maintain empty classrooms. This is about providing better opportunities to our young people now and for generations to come.
“The reasons given by the Scottish Government for the call-in do not stand up to any scrutiny and we are 100% confident of our position.
“North Lanarkshire Council has an outstanding track record in managing the transition of pupils to new schools, as noted in a number of HMIe reports.
“The decision to call-in these proposals will only add to the uncertainty for pupils, parents and staff. We will provide any further information required by the Scottish Government ahead of their decision and fully reserve all our options, including legal challenge, should they determine that these very necessary and beneficial proposals should not proceed.”