East Lothian schools review to consider closures and catchment changes

A major review of schools in East Lothian will consider closures, changes to catchment areas and mergers over the next six months.

Wednesday, 28th August 2019, 9:44 am
Schools will be reviewed. Picture: TSPL

The local authority’s head of education revealed proposals to consult parent councils, communities and families over ways to change the current schools estate.

The pre-consultation, which was given the go ahead by councillors at a meeting this week, will consider a “full range” of options.

In a report to a meeting of the council, Mrs Robertson, confirmed that the consultation would consider catchment reviews, new school build requirements, school merger proposals on a new site involving closure of existing schools, and other alternative proposals put forward during the consultation.

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East Lothian Council’s Labour administration scrapped proposals to close rural schools operating at less than 50 per cent ahead of last year’s budget after it met strong opposition.

The proposal would have seen two primary schools – Stenton and Humbie – close their doors.

The new review will focus mainly on primary schools and will look at the range of uses of school buildings and other council buildings by local communities.

Mrs Robertson told the meeting: “It is essential we carry out this review given the current challenges to the school estate.

“The focus will be primarily on primary schools and the consultation process will be about six months.”

Councillor Norman Hampshire, deputy leader, told the council meeting that the review would have “huge financial implications”.

And Councillor Stuart Currie, SNP group leader, warned that the review would spark concern among parents.

He said: “The risk of offending people is pretty high when people start talking about closures.

“This is a significant piece of work.”

Mr Currie, and fellow SNP councillor Paul McLennan, called for the results of the consultation and any “emerging themes” to be put before the council’s education committee for discussion

before coming back to council for a decision.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Currie said there were concerns that the report would bypass the education committee, which include members outwith the council who represent denominations and the union.

He said: “It is a decision about education and should be considered by the education committee.

“It will have implications for many families and needs to be debated fully before any decisions are made.”