Anxious parents call on council to think again

St Joseph's Pr School 'Closure protest by pupils and parents who live locally and say St Andrew's Pr is two far.'Photo by Paul Mc Sherry 17th Dec 2012.
St Joseph's Pr School 'Closure protest by pupils and parents who live locally and say St Andrew's Pr is two far.'Photo by Paul Mc Sherry 17th Dec 2012.

THE fight to save schools from the axe gathered pace this week with angry parents at St Joseph’s Primary in Milngavie joining the campaign.

They are protesting against a controverial proposal by East Dunbartonshire Council to merge the school with St Andrew’s Primary in Bearsden - to create a new school building on the St Andrew’s site.

If the plan goes ahead it will mean the end of Catholic education in Milngavie.

St Joseph’s Primary School recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and the school, which has a growing roll, has been on its current site since 1961, but can trace its roots back to 1873.

The council unveiled a raft of options last week that would see a major revamp of primary schools across East Dunbartonshire.

Parents of pupils at Bearsden Primary have already staged demonstrations against plans to close the school at its current location. A new school would be built on the Castlehill Primary School site in Bearsden.

Laureen McIntyre, chair of St Joseph’s parent council, said: “Parents are shocked and worried about the council’s consultation.

“One of the things that makes Milngavie a special place to live is that we have fantastic schools, and St Joseph’s is one of the best.

“Inspectors have praised our school for its consistently high quality of teaching and supportive environment.

“We would be happy to share a campus with Clober or Milngavie primary schools, but we don’t want our children taken out of the local community.

“St Joseph’s Primary School has been in Milngavie for well over 100 years and we need everyone in the village to rally round and support it.

“Over the next few weeks we plan to be out leafleting and speaking to everyone who will listen to help save our school.”

Helen Williams, vice-chair of St Joseph’s parent council, said: “I want my child to go to school in a community that he belongs to.

“It’s not just about the children who are at St Joseph’s now.

“My daughter is only two and it is important that she is also able to go to a local primary school.

“I don’t want to have to choose between my daughter’s faith and her community.

“I want her to form bonds and mix with children she will spend a lot of time with.

“Most of the pupils at St Andrew’s will go on to to Bearsden Academy, not Douglas Academy.

“This should matter to everyone in Milngavie, because St Joseph’s welcomes children from all denominations.

“Many of the parents are not Catholic, but they choose the school because of its moral ethos and warm, supportive atmosphere.”

St Joseph’s Parish Priest, Father Patrick Currie, said: “I want a Catholic educational presence in Milngavie.

“I would very much like to see our school kept as it is, especially as the roll is growing again.

“To have a Catholic school within the parish is very important, because there is a close link between the school, the home and the parish.”

He added: “We work together to build up the community. With no school an awful lot would be missing.”