New rules on rural school closures come into force

Pupils writing The Scottish government wants more transparency in the school closure process

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New rules on school closures have come into force across Scotland.

Learning minister Alasdair Allan said they would provide "important safeguards" for rural communities.

Local authorities will be required to carry out more rigorous consultation, especially before shutting rural schools

Evidence for proposed closures must be provided, and consultations should include clear, accurate information including financial costs.

The changes are part of the Children and Young People Act, passed in February.

The act also gives communities the right to challenge any inaccuracies in councils proposals.

If closure plans are rejected, the school concerned cannot be considered for closure for five years.

The Scottish government has provided councils with guidance about the changes.

'Greater protection'

Mr Allan said: "I am delighted that we have achieved our commitment to strengthen the rights of communities in relation to school closure proposals.

"In addition to providing important safeguards for rural schools, these changes will ensure that consultation is genuine and based on accurate information.

"Rural schools are at the heart of many of our communities in Scotland and the new legislation will give them greater protection and require councils to undertake more careful consideration before they can propose closure."

The minister added: "Clearly, local authorities are best placed to consider how to deliver services across their communities and sometimes it is necessary to close a school.

"However, the new legislation will strengthen parents and pupils' rights to clear information when these decisions are being considered."

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