Closure plans for Garlieston school shelved

Shadow Health Minister Colin Smyth
Shadow Health Minister Colin Smyth

Council plans to close Garlieston Primary School are set to be mothballed for a period of five years at the Children, Young People and Lifelong Learning Committee meeting at the end of the month.

Papers for the meeting were published earlier this week with the reccommendation that Garlieston as well as Ae and Kirkbean primary schools stay open.

South of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said, “I welcome the recommendation to have Ae, Garlieston and Kirkbean primary schools stay open along with the five-year moratorium on any future consultation as per the requirements of the Act. Dumfries and Galloway Council has listened to the powerful case put by local communities who value and want to work to support their local schools.

“School are a vital part of any community but especially villages where they are often, not just used for teaching but community events and it is clear that is the case here.

“In my submission to the consultation I made the point that school rolls would actually be higher in each school but some parents had understandably chosen to send their kids elsewhere because they were worried the school would close. Hopefully, this recommendation will go parents locally the confidence to send their kids to their local schools, not those some distance away.

“Whilst this is a moment for the local community to celebrate, it is also important we do not lose sight of the fact that councils are being forced to consider the future of schools as a direct result of considerable funding cuts from the Scottish Government to local councils. I will continue to urge the Scottish Government to value the work of schools and local council and make sure they start to properly fund local services.”

Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson commented: “I welcome the announcement that Dumfries and Galloway’s recommendation to Committee will be for both Garlieston and Kirkbean Primaries to remain open.

“It is vital that our local communities are served by local primary schools.

“It is reassuring that this decision has been made following the intervention of concerned parents, community groups, and politicians.

“However, I would question why this consultation was required in the first place – it is clear both primary schools provide excellent services to the local community.”

South Scotland MSP Emma Harper added: “I am glad that the Council has seen sense and reconsidered school closures at Kirkbean, Garlieston and Ae. This is a victory for the parents who fought so hard to keep these schools open.

“Closing rural schools is often a precursor to decline within the affected communities – that is why the Scottish Government has legislated to ensure there is a presumption against school closures.

“Schools are at the heart of rural communities, and if we are serious about helping these communities to thrive, it is vital that schools stay open.”