Argyll Rural Schools Network (ARSN) have welcomed a report compiled by the Commission of the Delivery fo Rural Education, but have criticised its recommendation that ‘educational benefit’ is removed from legislation.
The Commission for the Delivery of Rural Education was established in August 2011 by the Scottish Government and COSLA to examine both how the delivery of rural education could maximise the attainment, achievement and life chances of young people in rural areas, and the link between rural education and rural communities.
In their report, published on April 19, recommendation 20 states: “It should be acceptable for an Educational Benefits Statement to conclude that the educational impact is neutral, with no overall educational detriment to the children directly concerned.
“In such circumstances, if a closure continued to be proposed, it would be essential that any other factors are fully and transparently scrutinised, including identifying clear overall benefit to the rural communities involved.”
ARSN, which formed as a response to Argyll and Bute Council’s proposal in 2010 to close 26 primary schools – one of which was North Bute Primary School in Port Bannatyne – have said in response to the report: “We welcome the recommended focus on the impact school closures can have on children and communities, the call for strengthened guidance, provision of a five year protection for schools post closure consultation and the Committee’s recognition that small schools are well equipped to deliver the Curriculum for Excellence.
“We are, however, disappointed that the Commission have taken a view to remove educational benefit from the legislation. We believe it is paramount that educational benefit is always the cornerstone of any decision on the delivery of education.
“We note that many of the recommendations for improvement are rooted in the flawed school closure proposals inflicted on our communities by Argyll and Bute Council.
“We will continue to monitor, and react to, the council’s position on school closures.”