CLAIMS that Baldernock Primary is under threat of closure have been dismissed.
East Dunbartonshire Council (EDC) insists there are NO plans to shut the school, near Milngavie, despite the persistent claims of parent council member Niall Campbell.
Mr Campbell, from Torrance, says that the council dragged its heels over establishing whether it was classified as a ‘rural school’, which would grant it protection from closure under Scottish Government legislation, because education chiefs want it closed to save cash.
He also claimed that EDC have been trying to make it look like the school is more expensive to run than it is.
Mr Campbell said: “I believe this was a shambolic attempt to close the school under any circumstances.”
But the council’s director of community services, John Simmons, hit back saying there are no plans to close schools under the savings proposals for the 2012/13 revenue budget. Councillor Una Walker, the council’s education convener, says she has told Mr Campbell several times that Baldernock Primary is an accessible rural school - and therefore protected.
She said: “My priority as education convener is to work constructively with schools, educational professionals and parent bodies in East Dunbartonshire to ensure that the best possible educational benefits are available to all our young people during their school lives.”
Gordon Currie, head of education and community services, previously told the paper that the council is working closely with Scottish Government to establish the classification of a number of schools in East Dunbartonshire as there are pending changes to Scottish Government’s rural schools legislation. He said Baldernock is classed as a ‘small school’ but he meant that it’s an accessible rural school which is entitled to ‘small school’ funding because it’s rural.
Mr Simmons has now confirmed that Baldernock is an accessible rural school. He said: “The Scottish Government’s rural schools legislation will determine any future ‘rural’ funding arrangements.
“It is not appropriate to comment on what any future council will decide to do following the elections but it is certain that any future decisions would be taken in accordance with the relevant Scottish Government legislation.”
Fiona McLeod MSP was so concerned about the lack of clarity on the issue that she asked the question in the Scottish Parliament.
She said: “Baldernock’s ‘rural’ status has been confirmed and while the moratorium is in place East Dunbartonshire Council can’t close the school. The final decision on a school’s rural status rests with the Scottish Government and for the next year they have been protected from closure while a commission looks into how we provide education in rural areas.
“I appreciate the council doesn’t have any ‘live’ plans to close Baldernock Primary School but the threat of school closures is definitely in the air; so I am delighted the Scottish Government are protecting vulnerable but essential schools across Scotland in these financially tense time.”