Highlands & Islands

Delays and reprieve for closure risk Western Isles schools

Western Isles councillors have voted to continue provision of S1 and S2 education at Lionel and delay closing Carloway and Shelibost primaries.

A full meeting of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar decided to shut the primaries in June 2013 rather than this year.

Provision of S1 and S2 at at Shawbost will also end next June under the comhairle's new plans.

Falling rolls and budgetary constraints led to the planned closures, which have been challenged by the government.

Carloway on Lewis has 19 pupils on the current school roll while Shelibost on Harris has six.

The Scottish government opposed the four school closures and told the comhairle that its consultation process on the planned closures had been flawed.

The local authority went to the Court of Session in Edinburgh to seek a judicial review of the government's objection.

The review found in favour of the local authority. The Scottish government has lodged an appealed.

The comhairle said it would defend the appeal, but cannot proceed with any closures while the case was pending.

Angus Campbell, comhairle leader, said he knew how deeply many communities left about their schools.

He added: "But I, and I believe the rest of the councillors, genuinely want all children in the islands to have the best possible education in the best possible buildings.

"We may have disagreements about how we achieve that, but I believe we have gone a long way to achieving that goal."

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