The Argyll Rural Schools Network (ARSN) welcome the encouraging signs of change in the Council’s hard-line stance on school closures in their stated intention to consult with stakeholders as part of the consideration of alternatives to closure. The Council’s proposals around mechanisms for pre-consultation may also be a step forward, providing that a sufficient lead in time and information is available to communities.
However, ARSN are dismayed that the Council have again brought forward a long list of schools to be considered for closure at Christmas and that this initial list of 12 schools will be followed by others on an annual basis. Having schools under perpetual threat of closure will lead to instability in rural communities and have a devastating effect on their long term sustainability. This policy is diametrically opposed to the Council’s own policy which, until very recently, stated ‘Argyll and Bute Council is committed to supporting and encouraging the growth of vibrant communities throughout its area through a wide ranging programme of improving education, social work and health and importantly through helping communities to build capacity, develop skills and help themselves.”
ARSN members are faced with the immediate task of fighting to save the schools threatened on the new list, but want to engage in discussion to develop a new vision for schools in Argyll and Bute. In that spirit of cooperation, ARSN welcomes the offer by Mr Michael Russell MSP to hold discussions on a new vision with Argyll and Bute Council.
A Spokesperson for ARSN commented: “It is completely unacceptable for the Council to be constantly threatening communities, children, their parents and teachers with the spectre of closure. We need a complete change in Council policy and thinking. We want the debate to move from one about school closures to one that is focused on the Argyll and Bute we want to live in. That debate needs to start now, before any more schools are closed, so that together we can develop a more positive vision for the future of education in Argyll and Bute.”