Parents welcome new panel

Save St Joseph's Primary campaign
Save St Joseph's Primary campaign

St Joseph’s Primary School parents have welcomed the news that a new independent panel will now make final decisions on school closures.

Until now, if Scottish Ministers ‘called in’ a local authority proposal to close a school, they would make the final decision.

But the School Closure Review Panel now reaches a final determination – removing the scope for any suggestion of political considerations having influenced a decision.

East Dunbartonshire Council wants to close St Joseph’s Primary School in Milngavie and open a new school in Bearsden, which would combine St Joseph’s with St Andrew’s Primary, which is already in Bearsden.

This decision was ‘called in’ by Scottish Ministers but they concluded that East Dunbartonshire Council had followed the correct procedures and could go ahead with the plan.

But St Joseph’s parents have put forward a plan to run the school themselves with direct funding from the Scottish Government.

Campaigning parent, Andrew McFadyen, said: “This is good news for communities fighting school closures, it will make the system more transparent.

“We would like to see the new panel begin by looking again at the decision to close St Joseph’s to send a signal to parents across Scotland that they mean business.

“What we really need to see is a transfer in power from local authorities to parents and communities.

“We have received offers of support from across Scotland about our suggestion to run the school ourselves and we are pleased that the First Minister is actively considering our proposals. The best people to decide whether schools stay open are parents.”

Gordon Currie, director of education & children’s services, said: “These changes are as a result of last years Children and Young People Act. The Scottish Government gave East Dunbartonshire Council unconditional consent under the previous legislation to establish a new £9 million denominational school for St Joseph’s and St Andrew’s.

“It’s our understanding that cases under previous legislation cannot be considered under the new legislation and previously decided cases cannot be revisited.”