The convener of Moray Council has insisted that any decision taken on the future of schools in Moray will be to meet the educational needs of children in the region.
Speaking ahead of Monday’s crunch meeting at which the consultancy report on the region’s Sustainable Education Review (SER) will be considered, Councillor Stewart Cree has described the SNP decision to block rural school closures as “unfortunate”.
He insists that the SNP decision has come before they have all information available, and that councillors will get that at Monday’s meeting – and only then will they be able to make an informed decision.
However, campaigners fighting to save schools throughout the region are insisting that the entire process has been flawed from the beginning – with the Caledonian Economics report being dismissed by one as “virtually worthless”.
At Monday’s meeting SNP councillors will move to reject the closure of Milne’s High School and insist that no rural schools in Moray should be closed – a move that is being backed by Labour councillor Sean Morton.
Councillor Cree said: “We have tried to make it clear that the SER is about far more than bricks and mortar. The area-based review group set out with the focus of finding the best educational future for children in Moray.
“There are clearly gaps – but that is not the review’s fault and, unfortunately, the SNP have now said no closures, despite not having all the information.”
One of the leaders of the group formed to save Dallas Primary School from closure, Carol Riddel, has hit back at the entire process.
She said: “Although slickly presented the Caledonian Economics report is a quite inadequate basis to propose a major change.
“It is a poor quality report – poorly evidenced and virtually worthless. Crucial propositions are based on inadequate sampling and the opinions of very small groups, unsubstantiated by wider research.”
In Buckie parent council member for Portessie Primary School, Rachel Gault, defended smaller schools in the region, saying: “Moray Council suggest that smaller schools, those with less than seven classes, are not able to provide the same curricular experiences as larger schools.
“But these things are within the council’s powers to change.”