Village schools to close?

THE future of some primary schools in Galloway hangs in the balance after Dumfries and Galloway Council began a review of “cluster schools” .

The council wants to intro­duce non-teaching heads to oversee a number of schools and will consult key stakeholders, including parents and parent councils, from January to May.

The matter has so concerned the parents of pupils at Wigtown Primary they called an emergency meeting of their parent council last night.

Chairperson Gail Plunkett told The Galloway Gazette yesterday that Wigtown parents 
are worried they could lose their head teacher. She said: “We just want more information. It is my understanding that schools with fewer than 150 pupils could be subject to having a shared head teacher rather than a dedicated one.”

Wigtown currently has 86 primary pupils and 24 in the nursery school.

Parents of children in schools throughout the area received a letter this week telling them the council’s education services have begun a consultation process to look at the sustainability of small schools.

Those expected to come under intense scrutiny are Sorbie and Garlieston in the Machars and Drochduil and Castle Kennedy in the Rhins. The Sorbie school roll has dropped to four pupils, while Garlieston has 29. Drochduil has six pupils and Castle Kennedy has 41.

A council spokesperson said: “In response to a number of issues and challenges faced, our council agreed to carry out a review of cluster working between our schools. This review focused on dual zoning and catchment areas, sustaining small schools and transition from primary to secondary education.

“The main aim of the review 
was to ensure the new Curric­ulum for Excellence can offer the best possible outcomes for all young people, consistently across every school. We also need to make the best use of our resources and plan for the future sustainability of our small schools.”

Mid Galloway Councillor Alistair Geddes said: “This issue will impact significantly on the Mid Galloway area. There is uncertainty at the moment and uncertainty breeds concern.”

Parents can give their views at meetings at the following venues. Tuesday, January 22: Wigtown County Buildings, 3.30-5.30pm; 6pm-8pm. Thursday, January 24: Rephad Primary, Stranraer, 3.30-5.30pm; 6pm-8pm. Wednesday, January 30: Penninghame Primary, Newton Stewart, 3.30-5.30pm; 6pm-8pm.