Closures and amalgamation included in radical plan to modernise Moray’s schools

A radical approach to Moray’s school estate could see the creation of several ‘campus’ school groups caring for children’s education from pre-school to secondary.

The results of an extensive review carried out by independent consultants are being revealed by Moray Council today with the general public now being asked to engage with the local authority on their views for the future of education in the region.

At the heart of the proposals is the creation of ‘Associated School Groups’ (ASGs) centred on Buckie, Keith, Speyside, Elgin, Forres, Fochabers and Lossiemouth.

If the proposals are taken forward their could be school closures, including Milne’s High School whose 480 pupils would be re-zoned to either Elgin High or divided between Elgin and Keith Grammar.

Among the proposals is the option to close Mosstodloch Primary, moving children from there and Milne’s Primary to a vacant Milne’s High.

However, other schools that were expected to come under threat appear to be safe from closure – the locations of Tomintoul and Rothiemay primaries appearing to protect their status although the same cannot be said for under-threat Keith and Speyside primaries.

A further group of schools under threat through the various options includes Botriphnie, Newmill, Inveravon, Glenlivet, Knockando and Craigellachie.

In Forres a suggestion in the proposals cites the closures of Dallas and Logie primaries with their children moving to schools in the town.

The review follows a report that indicated Moray Council’s school estate required a £70million investment to bring it up to modern standards.

Vice-chair of the cross party group of councillors responsible for delivering the review, former teacher George Alexander, is now urging people to ensure they have their say on the future of Moray’s schools.

He said: “There is an awful lot of blind emotion instead of clear thinking – we want people to be open-minded about all these ideas.

“I would be really sorry to see £70million spent on patching up what are quite out of date buildings.”

Another member of the cross party group, Fochabers councillor Sean Morton, added: “This is the start of a Moray-wide conversation. I would urge all those with an interest in our children’s future education to have their say.”

Chairing the group was Councillor Anne Skene, who added: “I’m excited about the possibility of really getting education at a much better quality in the next 40 years.

“I do not believe our current set of schools is fit to meet the needs of a modern education programme and feel strongly that the list of options is an excellent starting point to bring our young people’s education into the 21st century.”

Proposed Associated School Groups

Buckie ASG

  • Move Portknockie Primary into Cullen
  • Move Portknockie into Findochty (or Findochty into Portknockie – building are the same size)
  • Move Portessie into Findochty
  • Move Portessie into Millbank
  • Move Portgordon into Cluny
  • Create a new coast primary incorporating Findochty, Portknockie and possibly Cullen and/or Portessie

Elgin ASG

  • Rezone the East End/New Elgin primary zone, using the A96 rather than the railway as the boundary. Also rezone Greenwards boundary east to relieve pressure on New Elgin and extend Greenwards by about four classes.
  • Build a new South Side school to replace Greenwards, New Elgin and possibly also Mosstowie (around 1000 pupils).
  • Close East End and West End and create a new build of around 14 classes (400 pupils) to address poor disabled access and traffic management at the current buildings.
  • Relocate Mosstowie pupils to Elgin schools – but neither Greenwards, New Elgin nor West End could accommodate them in their present form.

Keith ASG

  • Close Crossroads Primary and move children to Rothiemay.
  • Close Crossroads and move children to Newmill.
  • Close Newmill and move into Keith Primary.
  • Close Newmill and Crossroads and move into Keith Primary/Possibe 3-18 campus at Keith Grammar School.
  • Close Botriphnie and move into Mortlach at Dufftown or close Botriphnie and move to Keith Primary.

Milne’s ASG

  • Close Mosstodloch Primary and move into Milne’s Primary.
  • Close Milne’s High and either zone all children to Elgin High School or zone Lhanbryde residents to Elgin High and the rest to Keith Grammar.

Speyside ASG

  • Create a 3-18 campus at Speyside High to accommodate Aberlour, Knockando, Glenlivet, Inveravon, Aberlour and Craigellachie.
  • Create a new rural hut to serve Glenlivet, Inveravon and Knockando.
  • Amalgamate Craigellachie and Rothes at Rothes Primary.
  • Zone Glenlivet to Tomintoul, move Glenrinnes residents to Mortlach catchment.
  • Close some schools and amalgamate to Aberlour.

Forres ASG

  • Reconfigure town schools from three down to two by removing Anderson’s Primary.
  • As above, but including pupils from Dallas and Logie.

Lossiemouth ASG

  • Use street by street analysis to sort out zones within Lossiemouth.
  • Make Lossiemouth High School a 3-18 campus.

Full details on the proposals can be found on the Moray Council Website.

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