Education minister urged to limit decision time on school closures to one month

Isles MSP Tavish Scott has called on the education minister to limit the time taken over school closure decisions to one month.

Last year it took Mike Russell five months to decide whether to endorse decisions by councillors to close Uyeasound and Burravoe primaries. In the end he backed the proposal to shut Uyeasound but rejected the closure of Burravoe. He also took two months earlier in the year to decide whether to support the decision to close Scalloway’s secondary department.

Mr Scott has written to Mr Russell as part of the Scottish government’s consultation on rural education, during which there is a year-long moratorium on school closures.

Speaking as he visited Sandness School today, Mr Scott said: “I want to reflect on part of the process which I think needs change. Irrespective of the minister or government I do not believe it is fair on children, parents and local communities for these decisions to be drawn out over an unspecified length of time.

“Unst, Yell and Scalloway have all gone through this pretty awful experience over the past three years. I know if my children had been affected by such a process what pressure that would have added to the day-to-day experience of school.

“Therefore I believe that the legislation must lay down a maximum period from a minister’s decision to call in a particular school closure to that of final decision. Unless there are very good reasons, I have suggested to the cabinet secretary that this should not be more than one month.”


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