Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant was in Moray on Friday for talks with representatives of the Save Milne’s High School campaign – and gave assurance that she fully understood the importance of schools in rural areas.
Ms Grant met with the campaigners at the end of a week where they had revealed their petition in support of retaining the school had gathered over 2000 signatures.
Milne’s High is under threat from a sustainable education review currently being carried out by consultancy firm Caledonian Economics on behalf of Moray Council. Faced with a bill of around £70million to bring its educational estate up to date, the local authority are seeking ways of reorganising education in the region.
Part of these proposals includes the closure of several rural primary schools and one secondary – Milne’s High. The reorganisation would see new ‘super schools’ created around a local campus system.
After meeting campaigners and local residents in Fochabers Ms Grant said: “I think that the meeting was really useful certainly from my point of view to listen to the concerns of parents and businesses in the area.
“We all know that schools in rural areas are the hub of the community but when you’ve go things like the library the gym and the like it’s not only an educational thing.
“People at the meeting were very keen to find ways of using the school to the greater good of the wider community. At a time when spending is tight it is important that we use every facility to the maximum of its potential.”
Milne’s High is the only secondary proposed for closure under the review which was published by consultants in February before going to wider community consultation.
The final report of the review will be put to councillors in August, which any major changes as a result of the review not expected before the August 2016 school year.