Catholic church intervenes in fight to save Milngavie school

Milngavie Precinct, St Joseph's parents protesting'Photo Emma Mitchell'17/8/13
Milngavie Precinct, St Joseph's parents protesting'Photo Emma Mitchell'17/8/13

Worshippers have been told that controversial council plans to close Milngavie’s only Catholic school are “unnacceptable”.

The Archdiocese of Glasgow took the unusual step of issuing a statement to all parishioners at masses in Bearsden and Milngavie on Sunday opposing plans to close St Joseph’s Primary.

Catholic Church chiefs have slammed East Dunbartonshire Council’s scheme to shut the school and merge it with St Andrew’s in Bearsden.

A consultation into the merger began on Monday and council chiefs have stressed that no decision has been taken.

In its statement, the Archdiocese said: “The Archdiocese of Glasgow will respond formally to the consultation restating its firm support for the retention of St Joseph’s Milngavie and St Andrew’s Bearsden as free standing primary schools serving their respective communities.

“Any proposal which effectively ends the provision of Catholic education in the Milngavie area, where there is a growing population of Catholic children, who are currently attending St. Joseph’s Primary, would be unacceptable to the Archdiocese.”

Laureen McIntyre, chair of St Joseph’s Parent Council, said the statement sent a clear message to Catholics - and others - that they too should oppose the merger.

She said: “The council’s determination to push ahead with this consultation against overwhelming opposition from the Church and parents shows that it is badly out of touch.

“The response to our campaign, with over 1,200 people signing our petition, shows that the whole of Milngavie values our presence and we want to stay where we belong.

“There are alternative options that the council could look at, such as a shared campus or community hub, including a new library or sports facilities that would bring benefits for children, their parents and grandparents.

“This fight is not just about the future of our schools, but about whether the Council can be allowed to ignore the views of minorities. As Catholics, our children have the same right to be educated in their own community as anyone else.”

Mre McIntyre said that St Joseph’s is the fastest growing school in East Dunbartonshire, with a roll that has increased by over a quarter in the past three years.

Gordon Currie, Head of Education, said: “East Dunbartonshire Council is widely recognised for both its investment and support of religious education in Roman Catholic schools and the council remains committed to providing high quality denominational education.

“There have been several meetings between the council and Church representatives with an opportunity for more during this consultation period.

“No decision has been made yet and the statutory consultation which runs until October 11 gives everyone involved an opportunity to put forward

their views.

“We are listening and will continue to listen to all viewpoints.”