Schools decisions ‘too often detrimental to coastal communities’

Portknockie Primary School

Worried parents from several Moray schools have held discussions with their local MP and MSP over the possible consequences of the Moray Council School Estate Review.

Banffshire MSP Stewart Stevenson and Moray’s MP Angus Robertson heard first hand the concerns of parents whose children attend Portknockie, Portessie, Findochty and Cullen primary schools.

The discussions followed the report Moray Council had commissioned from Caledonian Economics, which proposes several schools closures and amalgamations along with the radical creation of groups of schools in a ‘Campus’ format.

Parents sought an opportunity to express their views to the parliamentary representatives as well as seeking assistance on steps they can take to ensure their concerns are heard.

Following the meeting Stewart Stevenson MSP said: “The four communities clearly have a very committed group of parents who are not only concerned as to the impact on their children but also the impact on the communities where they live.

“Clearly, if these schools are removed it would make these communities less attractive places in which to live and potentially impact on facilities, such as shops and transport.

“People are very alert to the wider implications of Moray Council’s proposals and are also very clear that small schools are where the best education is provided, particularly for those children with additional needs.

“The schools in Portessie, Findochty, Portknockie and Cullen all have good reputations in this regard.”

Attending the meeting was Mike Coull, chair of the Portessie Parent Council group. He said: “It was quite a helpful and open meeting and both Mr Stevenson and Mr Robertson were able to give us lots of insights, especially in how to make it more difficult to make decisions on merger and closure.

“We now have many options to look at and have also identified more things which are missing from the consultants’ report. It looks like it could actually cost more to the taxpayer in the long run to close or merge these schools than to run them.

“The Parent Council representatives at the meeting thought that it was a very worthwhile session and that they have a lot to take away from it.”

Angus Robertson MP said that both he and Mr Stevenson had been impressed by the commitment to the “best education standards” that are already offered by each of the schools to their local communities.

He added: “We have yet to see the educational advantages which are supposedly at the heart of the alternative plans. In recent years, too many decisions in Elgin have been detrimental to coastal communities.

“This issue is going to run for months and I would encourage local parents and residents to make their voices heard.”

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