Published: 18/05/2014 16:00 - Updated: 16/05/2014 11:46

MSP adds name to school closure fight

Written bySarah Rollo

MORAY’S MSP has thrown his weight behind a campaign to save a closure-threatened Moray secondary school.

Richard Lochhead signs the petition.
Richard Lochhead signs the petition.

Richard Lochhead added his name to a petition which calls for Milne’s High School to be saved, and for the authority publicly to guarantee its future.

However, as Moray Council’s sustainable education review continues, the SNP minister said that schools in the area need to be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

Mr Lochhead was speaking ahead of a public meeting on the future of Milne’s and its feeder primaries, taking place in the Fochabers Institute on Monday evening.

He said: "I was very pleased to have been able to meet the parents and campaigners from the local community who are running a very powerful campaign and making a number of very valid points. The support they are receiving illustrates the strength of feeling in the local community, given the prospect of going from one secondary and two primaries down to one primary.

The ‘Save Milne’s’ community action group, which is behind Monday’s meeting, described the prospective closure of Milne’s as an act of ‘educational vandalism’.

Their petition, launched on May 4 and still active, has already attracted more than 700 signatures.

Leading the campaign is resident Dougie Potter, who said that community representatives agreed the closure of the school would rip the heart out of the community.

"Monday’s meeting will explore how we are going to campaign to let Moray councillors know that we don’t believe the proposals that their consultants are putting forward are ideal for a rural environment," he said.

The sustainable education review was launched last year, and is being carried out by consultants Caledonian Economics, led by a cross-party steering group consiting of Councillors Anne Skene (Ind), George Alexander (Ind), Sean Morton (Lab) and Mike Shand (SNP).

It was commissioned against a backdrop of a £70 million bill to bring Moray’s school estate up to standard amid changing legislation, curriculum demands and expectations.

As part of the process, an online survey was produced, with the results now published online at the council’s website – www.moray.gov.uk – under the sustainable education review section.

Community briefings followed, with teacher focus groups scheduled to take place next week, followed by a session for all the area’s primary and secondary heads.

The council has said that the status quo remains an option, but should elected members opt to take forward any of the proposals, further consultation will take place.

Monday’s public meeting is taking place in the Institute at 7.30pm, with members of the public from the Milne’s High School catchment area invited to attend.

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