Thirty-two primary schools across Galloway with a pupil roll of 150 or less are due to be become “cluster schools” over the next three years.
Next Tuesday at the council offices in Dumfries, the education committee will be asked to approve the recommendations of the cluster working review group to agree the following partnerships:
In Wigtownshire that means clusterings – the sharing of headteachers – for Wigtown/Kirkcowan, Minnigaff/Creetown, Sorbie/Garlieston/Whithorn, Port William/Kirkinner, Glenluce/Castle Kennedy/Drochduil, Kirkcolm/Leswalt/Portpatrick, and Sandhead/Drummore.
In the Stewartry area, it will be Auchencairn/Borgue, Colvend/Kirkgunzeon/Palnackie, Springholm/Hardgate/Lochrutton, Crossmichael/Gelston, Gatehouse/Twynholm and Kells/Carsphairn/Dalry.
These schools will see the introduction of a “non-class committed headteacher” overseeing the “cluster schools”. These proposed changes would be carried out on a phased basis from June 2013 to June 2016.
The situation will be reassessed in 2016 when projected figures suggest a further six schools could become “partnered” within five years due to pupil numbers dropping. This sea change in the education system is due to headteachers retiring, the local authority’s inability to recruit headteachers and falling school rolls.
More than 50 hours of consultation took place with parents between January and March to answer questions and hear concerns. In Wigtownshire the turnout to these meetings was 10 per cent and in the Stewartry it was 5 per cent. Mid Galloway councillor Jim McColm, a member of the education committee, said: “The cluster schools proposal came as a bit of a shock to some parent councils and parents and their views on this will be taken into consideration on Tuesday.”