MSP takes Moray schools fight to Scottish Parliament

Pupils protest as MSP takes up case in Holyrood

An MSP used a debate at Holyrood to attack plans in Moray’s Sustainable Education Review that would see several rural schools being closed.

Stewart Stevenson, the MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, strongly criticised Tory proposals at the parliament to address the ‘attainment gap’ in Scottish schools.

The MSP, whose constituency includes several of the Moray schools under threat of closure under the recommendations of a report by consultant’s Caledonian Economics, attacked a Tory motion that promoted maximum parental choice and greater diversity in schools.

During Wednesday’s debate he said: “In Moray in my constituency, the future of schools in Findochty, Portknockie, Portessie, and Cullen, Rothiemay, Crossroads and Cluny school, and nearby at Portgordon at Newmill are all under review.

“Milne’s High School in Fochabers is under threat of closure.

“The Tory motion believes in maximum choice – are schools in Moray with good educational attainment being supported by what is being proposed? No. They are threatened by proposals to close, to merge, to reduce their schools, reducing diversity and reducing choice.

“No educational case has been made for the changes proposed in Moray they are not failing schools but those with a good educational record. Nor does the economic case stand any scrutiny.

“As many of these schools are below the 70 pupil level where additional funding trips in, if the schools proposed for closure were to close, Moray would sacrifice a seven figure sum in funding.

“These moves are not justified in diversity, not justified in choice and hardly likely to be justified on economic grounds.

“Fundamentally there is no indication from the community that they want this change to be made and there was a local march last weekend against some of these proposals.

“Disadvantage comes from economic circumstances, not genetic. Having a situation where children are denied the range of opportunities that they would get in a wealthier environment is not the way forward, and I would ask the Tories to reflect on that.

“The report by Caledonian Economics recommending the proposals for Moray schools will be discussed by local councillors on Monday. SNP councillors plans to oppose the plans for school closures in Moray.”

Mr Stevenson was speaking as parents, pupils and supporters of Findochty Primary School in his constituency held a protest outside the Moray Council HQ in Elgin, handing in a petition demanding that no rural schools are closed – see full story here.

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