Argyll and Bute Council looking to close 26 of their 80 schools
In 2000 five schools in Argyll, including my children's school, were
threatened with closure by Argyll and Bute Council.
Let me be clear that there can be good reasons why a school should close
down and no-one should dispute that. But it should be a last resort for
long term educational, economic, and social reasons, not a response to
a short term financial situation. Once a school closes down it can have
permanent and damaging effects on the children and the local community.
I looked at the educational and financial arguments Argyll and Bute Council
were making in 2000, and then submitted a petition to the Scottish Parliament
based on research I did which showed the council's claims were spurious
or misleading. The petition was on behalf of, and supported by, all six
threatened Argyll schools
As with their previous closure progammes the council in 2000 were trying
divide and rule tactics, telling us that only three or four of the six
schools would close, so each of us we were expected to fight against the
other five schools to justify our survival. We refused to accept this
and we all stood together.
This was consensual co-operative action that Argyll and Bute Council
could not understand, did not expect, and had no idea how to deal with.
The Parliament then appointed Cathy Peattie MSP to investigate the petition,
she found in favour of it, and the Parliament's Education Committee unanimously
endorsed her report. . The council was forced reluctantly to back down
in the face of the Peattie Report, but instead of abandoning their discredited
programme they grudgingly said they had just "suspended" closure
decisions on the six schools.
They have waited ten years to end this "suspension" and start
the programme again and they see the current financial situation as their
It is up to each set of parents and local community to decide if their
local school is worth fighting for. But if they do, they can expect more
misleading information and divide and rule tactics from the council, setting
rural school against rural school and urban communities against rural
How each school deals with that is up to them. But if they allow this
council to play their standard divide and rule game, then the chances
are they have lost already.
Neil Kay, October 27th 2010