Highlands & Islands

Officials recommend closures of four schools on Skye

Struan Primary school Image copyright Richard Dorrell/Geograph
Image caption Struan Primary School is one of the schools facing closure

Education officials have recommended that councillors push ahead with plans to close four primary schools on Skye and replace them with one new building.

Highland Council has proposed shutting Edinbane, Dunvegan, Knockbreck and Struan primaries.

A new school would be built at Dunvegan which officials said would offer pupils more opportunities.

Public consultation on the plans suggested strong support for the small schools to remain open.

Councillors will be asked to support the closures at a meeting on 14 January.

Education officials have said that bringing together the children in a new school would give them more chances to mix with other pupils of a similar age and ability.

The larger school would also help with the development of Gaelic-medium education.

The officials said that for some children getting to school would involve a 40-mile (64km) journey, but added that this was not unique in a Highland context.

'Important safeguards'

The public consultation on the proposals was criticised earlier this year.

SNP MSP Dave Thompson and parents raised concerns about whether the council was following new legislation.

Highland Council said at the time it was aware of the concerns and would respond to parents in due course.

New rules on school closures came into force across Scotland in August to provide "important safeguards" for rural communities.

Local authorities are 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 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.

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