Community says no to plans to close St Joseph’s Primary School

Photograph Jamie Forbes 28.3.14 MILNGAVIE precinct, parents from St Joseph's Primary School launch 'Shop Local' as part of campaign to save the school.
Photograph Jamie Forbes 28.3.14 MILNGAVIE precinct, parents from St Joseph's Primary School launch 'Shop Local' as part of campaign to save the school.

St Joseph’s campaigners are urging the council to save the school as a consultation shows overwhelming opposition to its closure.

Parents who are trying to save Milngavie’s only Catholic school are demanding that East Dunbartonshire Council thinks again about its proposal to merge the school with St Andrew’s Primary in Bearsden in a new building at the St Andrew’s site.

Out of 265 responses 204 disagreed with the proposal, 51 agreed and 10 did not specify.

And out of the 291 additional responses 280 disagreed with the proposal, just one agreed and 10 did not specify.

This means that overall, across both communities in Bearsden and Milngavie, 87 per cent of respondents disagreed with the proposal.

The report also highlights opposition from the Catholic Church - which sees the plan as a serious deterioration in denominational provision - and teachers at both schools.

Also, the report’s Equality Impact Assessment warns of “indirect discrimination” against Catholic families in Milngavie because they will have to travel to another place to access education.

Indirect discrimination is described as ‘a policy decision which unintentionally disadvantages a group’.

St Joseph’s non-denominational nursery and Timeout Club, which also provides wrap around care to children from Craigdhu, are also threatened with closure by the council’s plans.

St Joseph’s Parent Council Chair, Laureen McIntyre, said: “This report highlights the fact that parents, pupils, teachers and the Catholic Church all want the council to think again.

“This consultation has had a huge response with 556 people and organisations taking part.

“If the word ‘consultation’ means anything at all then councillors will go back to the drawing board and come up with something new.

“It is also completely unacceptable to go ahead with a school closure that the council themselves now admit will discriminate against Catholic families in Milngavie.

“Our children have the same right to be educated in their own community as everyone else.”

Gordon Currie, East Dunbartonshire Director of Education and Children’s Services, said: “The council, parents and other stakeholders all want to ensure the best possible education for our young people, and we are grateful to everyone who has given their views on how to do this.

“The consultation report highlights the educational benefits of the proposal, which have been recognised by the independent assessment of Education Scotland.

“The council has looked at the potential impact on people in Milngavie but this has to be weighed against the proposal to invest £8.97m to build the proposed new school, which clearly demonstrates the council’s continuing commitment to Catholic education in East Dunbartonshire.

“These proposals to close schools were not arrived at lightly but through this Improvement Programme we have an opportunity to provide the young people of East Dunbartonshire with the modern, well-equipped schools they deserve while making much needed savings and efficiencies.”

Members of the community are invited to join in a demonstration on Saturday at 11.30am at Oakburn Park.