Published Date: 

25 Nov 2010 (All day)

The proposals involve reducing the number of primary schools from 80 to 55 by amalgamating 25 schools into 19 receiving schools.

Councillors agreed to withdraw the proposal which would have seen Luing primary amalgamate with Easdale primary.
Council Leader Dick Walsh said it was vital that the public had a chance to have their say.

“We are committed to listening to our communities, and want to give people across Argyll and Bute the chance to play a full part in this consultation process,” he added.

“At this stage, these are nothing more than proposal documents for consultation. I want to assure the public that no decisions have been taken, and that no decisions will be taken until we have gathered and assessed the responses we receive during the consultation.

“Given the very challenging financial climate over the next few years we, in common with Scotland’s other 31 councils, are having to explore all avenues in terms of potential savings.

“We are satisfied the work done on the review of our school estate to date has been sound and thorough, and we now have a duty to fully investigate the options open to us. We are asking our residents to join with us in that process by making their views known.”

Although the council has been receiving feedback on these proposals for several weeks – all of which will be considered as part of the consultation - the official consultation period will now start on Monday, 13 December 2010 and end on Thursday, February 24 2011.

During this time, public meetings will be held for each proposal which anyone is free to attend should they wish.

At the meetings, the council will present its reasons for bringing forward the particular proposal, after which there will be an opportunity for questions and comment. All comments will be collated and fed back into the consultation process.

In addition, people are invited to email, write or fill in response forms with their views and comments.

Councillor Walsh said: “We are committed to a transparent and robust consultation, and I would urge all those who have something to say on this subject to play their part so we get a comprehensive picture of the views across the area. Only then will we be able to make a balanced judgement on finding a sustainable way forward.”

Once the consultation period has finished, a report will be drawn up which will include a record of the total number of written representations, a summary of those representations, a summary of the oral representations made at the public meetings, a copy of the HMIE report into the educational aspects of the proposals and the council’s response and details of any alleged inaccuracies and how they have been handled.

This report will be published in electronic and printed formats and will be advertised in local newspapers. It will be available on the council website and in the council headquarters, as well as the affected schools.

The council will consider that report at a later date.

School rolls across Argyll and Bute have fallen steadily over many years. In 1975 the primary roll was 9124. By 1996 this had fallen to 8373, and this year the figure is 5816. Rolls are expected to drop by a further 19% by 2020.

59% of primary schools have an occupancy of less than half, which compares unfavourably with the national average of 20%.

Argyll and Bute Council currently operates 80 primary schools, 10 secondary schools and one learning centre.

The annual cost of educating a pupil in schools in Argyll and Bute ranges from roughly £3,000 per pupil to in excess of £30,000 per pupil.

Argyll and Bute Council has to reduce its budget by between £9m and £13m each year, for the next three years.

The education budget needs to be reduced by £12m (15%) over the next three years.

The proposed amalgamations are:
Keills with port Charlotte
Ulva with Dervaig
Lochdonhead with Salen
North Bute with Rothesay
Toward with Innellan
Kilmodan with Strachur/Tighnabruaich
Luss with Hermitage primary
Rosneath and Kilcreggan with Garelochhead
parklands with Hermitage Academy/John Logie Baird
Southend with Drumlemble
Strone with Sandbank
St Keiran’s with Castlehill
Ardchattan, Achaleven and Barcaldine with Lochnell
Kilchrenan with Taynuilt
Ardchonnel with Dalmally/Kilmartin
Skipness, Rhunahaorine and Glenbarr with Clachan
Ashfield with Tayvallich
Achahoish with Ardrishaig
Glassary and Minard with Lochgilphead