Moray set for new proposals on sustainable schools

New policy document this week follows rejection of Sustainable Education Review last year

A DRAFT POLICY detailing six criteria under which the sustainability of schools in Moray will be measured will be placed before councillors this week.

The 30-page document “Schools for the Future: Policy for Sustainable Schools” is being placed before the children and young people’s services committee on Wednesday.

If approved, the report will then go out for consultation to parent councils, head teachers and trade unions. It is also proposed that it be used as the basis for a pilot review in schools in the Forres area.

The draft policy follows the rejection by councillors in November last year of the controversial findings of a report by external consultants on the sustainable education review. Fears of school closures as a result of that report sparked protests in the region that were followed by several administration councillors voting against its proposals.

At that time councillors did agree to look again at the introduction of a sustainable schools policy with triggers that could activate a new sustainability review.

In the report to the committee the report author, senior education adviser Paul Watson, says: “Officers have researched suitable criteria and indicators for sustainable schools and have concluded that, first and foremost, the quality of education offered by a school must be of greatest importance.

“There is also a necessity to ensure schools are financially viable and that school rolls and enrolment trends indicate that schools will continue to be sustainable.  The draft policy addresses these criteria and identifies a number of indicators which will assist in identifying which schools are sustainable.

“Where the indicators show that a school may not be sustainable, the draft policy describes a range of options which would need to be considered regarding sustainable educational provision within any area.”

Mr Watson adds that the draft report has been designed to provide a “transparent basis” from which Moray Council may review the school estate “to ensure it provides equality of opportunity for children and young people in terms of access to high quality educational provision and facilities.”

The draft policy, according to Mr Watson, also aims to ensure all children and young people have equal access to good quality education in fit-for-purpose buildings and “are taught in classes which are of suitable size, benefit equally from the availability of suitable resources and are not disadvantaged by travelling excessive distances to and from school.”

Councillors will be asked that the criteria and indicators are first used to review the whole of the Forres associated schools group – covering Forres Academy and its feeder primary schools.

The outcome from that review may then be used to inform future decision making on a Moray-wide sustainability policy.