Community message is loud and clear – hands off our schools!

Hundreds turned out in protest march (David Robertson)

Moray Council has been delivered the loudest message yet that communities will fight tooth and nail to retain and protect their schools.

Hundreds turned out on Sunday in Fochabers to make their feelings known over proposals in the Sustainable Education Review that recommends the closure of Milne’s High School and several rural primary schools throughout the region.

In a meeting and march called by the Save Milne’s High School campaign local and national politicians joined forces with parents, pupils and friends to ensure that when councillor’s meet to discuss the issue next week they will be aware of the strength of public feeling.

“I’ve been amazed by the turnout today – it is a real testament to the strength of feeling among local people,” Patricia Bruce-Maynard of the Save Milne’s High School campaign said.

She added: “It is not just the children or the teachers who will be affected – it is the whole community, and we are delighted that they all came out to show how they feel about our schools.”

As well as local councillors Sean Morton and Margo Howe, Moray’s MP Angus Robertson and MSP Richard Lochhead joined marchers who were decked in the green and gold school colours.

Mr Robertson said: “Milne’s High School must be saved – it is an excellent school at the heart of the community and the turnout of pupils, parents and local people shows the strength of feeling in support of retaining the school.

“Hopefully the Moray Council administration is listening and will make the correct decision to maintain the school.”

Mr Lochhead added that he did not believe Fochaber’s had ever seen the likes: “How the community have rallied around just shows how important saving the school is for local people.

“Milne’s High is a successful school, not a failing school, and that is the message being sent out loud and clear.”

Anderson’s Primary School

Meanwhile another campaign group has joined the many already formed by schools to fight for their future.

The Parent Council Forum for Anderson’s Primary School in Forres has formed a sub-committee they are calling ‘Support Anderson’s Primary’ – and their first action is to write to all Moray Councillors ahead of their meeting on November 3 to discuss the future of Moray’s schools.

In the letter councillors have been told: “The Parent Forum voted with an overwhelming majority that they did not agree with the proposal to close Anderson’s Primary School.

“As a result of the meeting, Support Anderson’s School (SAS) was formed by the Parent Council as a lobbying group to ensure that the views of parents and carers of Anderson’s Primary School were more widely recognized within the council and the community as a whole.”

The letter goes on to demonstrate how on cost terms alone Anderson’s should be protected, saying: “Anderson’s is currently the most popular primary school in Forres in terms of placing requests and this is demonstrated by the current school roll figures.

“As a consequence of this it is currently cheaper per child to educate children at Anderson’s than any other school in the Forres ASG and is below the average in Moray.”

Last week the Convener for Moray Council, Councillor Stewart Cree, indicated that the local authority was stepping back from any firm decisions being taken at the November 3 meeting.

Councillor Cree said: “Following on from the initial consideration of the consultants’ report by the area based review group, it is clear that additional information and further engagement will be needed before substantive decisions can be taken on individual schools.”

(More images of the march in support of Milne’s High School can be found on the insideMoray Facebook page)

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