St Joseph’s: ‘The fight goes on’

Public meeting about St Joseph's
Public meeting about St Joseph's

More than 130 people packed into St Joseph’s Church Hall on Tuesday for a public meeting about the future of Milngavie’s only Catholic school.

St Joseph’s Primary is threatened with closure because East Dunbartonshire Council wants to build a new merged denominational school in Bearsden, which would combine the Milngavie school with St Andrew’s Primary .

The school’s parent council launched a campaign last month to run St Joseph’s Primary as a community-led school to keep it in Milngavie.

Parents said they felt invigorated by a brilliant meeting, which shows the campaign to save St Joseph’s is stronger than ever.The meeting was chaired by Observer columnist Kevin McKenna, who said: “I can’t believe why any local authority would cut the umbilical cord that has linked a very successful school to its community for almost 140 years without any good reason.

“The physical bond that links a Catholic primary school to its local church will be broken, but also several other links which have benefited the local community too.

“There is an issue here about Catholic education because the question has posed about why it is now only St Joseph’s pupils who will have to be bussed out of their own neighbourhood to attend school. But there’s also another issue, about what we want to deliver education in the 21st century. Education is about more than simply gaining good grades in an exam factory. It’s about nurturing in our children a set of community and social values which, we hope, will equip them for life.”

Parent Paula Speirs said: “We want parents and communities to take decisions about the future of schools, not councillors. Nobody cares more about our children’s education than we do.”

Gordon Currie, the council’s director of education/children’s services, said: “The Scottish Government has given the council unconditional consent to move ahead with plans to establish a new £9 million denominational school in Bearsden to serve the school communities of St Andrew’s and St Joseph’s. This is part of a multi-million pound programme to improve the educational experience of pupils while addressing issues such as under-occupancy: currently St Joseph’s is 64% under-occupied and St Andrew’s is 45% under-occupied.”