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Row erupts amid fears Fraserburgh schools will be forced to share head teacher forever

The map shows the distance shared head teacher needs to travel between Fraserburgh and Lochpots Schools
Community members worry that a permanent shared head teacher arrangement in Fraserburgh will cause children's education to suffer in the long-term

Fraserburgh parents have warned it will be a “massive issue” if they are forced to share a head teacher permanently.

Fraserburgh North and Lochpots Primary Schools have had a joint head since January.

Aberdeenshire Council insists the arrangement is temporary – but locals say they have been told there are plans to make it permanent.

Fraserburgh North also houses a community resource hub for children with additional needs.

Locals say resources and attention shouldn’t be taken away from the school.

An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said officials are discussing options for the future with the community.

‘No’ to sharing

After the head teacher at Lochpots announced her retirement in December, the council appointed Fraserburgh North head teacher Sharon Mellin to serve both schools as a temporary measure.

Less than a mile separates the two schools, which are both in Fraserburgh.

There are 93 pupils at Fraserburgh North and 197 at Lochpots.

Fraserburgh North School is part of a shared head teacher arrangement with nearby Lochpots Primary.

Local Alba Party councillor Brian Topping said that local councillors were told this week that the arrangement might be made permanent.

He and fellow members Charles Buchan and Doreen Mair said they were not consulted beforehand and think Lochpots needs a new head teacher as soon as possible.

Mr Topping said that the shared arrangement would damage both schools over time.

“Children’s education will suffer in the long-term, and staff morale at Lochpots is very, very low at the moment. It’s a massive issue.”

“The whole thing is just crazy and it can’t go ahead. It’s not practical, it’s not sensible. Both schools deserve a head teacher of their own.”

Trouble for students in the long run?

One community member said that any money saved by the shared arrangement isn’t worth it.

“The simple fact is that a cluster head cannot provide the same attention to a school as a dedicated one, so in times of increased pressure on school staff the authorities are prioritising costs over pupils and actually making it worse for the staff.”

Another parent said that, because Fraserburgh North is a hub for children with additional needs, it shouldn’t be stretched thin by a shared arrangement.

Although the parent praised Mrs Mellin’s abilities, she said children need a constant presence.

“Children need consistency especially children with additional needs.”

The Lochpots website lists Mrs Mellin as the head teacher from Monday to Wednesday.

Lochpots Primary’s head teacher announced her retirement in December, leading to the temporary shared arrangement with Fraserburgh North.

Mrs Mellin praised for her efforts

Despite confusion over the schools’ futures and opposition to a shared headship, most of those involved agree that Mrs Mellin is an asset to both schools. Parents discussing the situation online were quick to say that Lochpots would benefit from her leadership.

During a school inspection in December, an Education Scotland regulator commended Mrs Mellin for her school culture and work resolving issues raised during earlier inspections.

But still, community members agreed with councillors that the schools need their own leaders.

Other schools in a similar position

A spokesman for the council said that the arrangement between Fraserburgh North and Lochpots is still temporary.

“The council took the decision to put in place an interim shared head teacher arrangement between Lochpots and Fraserburgh North schools further to the retiral of the Lochpots head teacher in December.

“The service is currently consulting with key stakeholders in relation to next steps.”

Kincardine O’Neill and Lumphanan Primary Schools are also currently sharing a head teacher. But the schools are smaller in size than either Fraserburgh or Lochpots.

The two schools are roughly five miles and a 10-minute drive apart. They combine for a total enrolment of 67 pupils.

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