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Island school is mothballed for two years – but community can still use for events

The Garvellachs Islands in the Firth of Lorne from the Isle of Luing. Photo by Keith Fergus
The Garvellachs Islands in the Firth of Lorne from the Isle of Luing. Photo by Keith Fergus

A primary school on a small island south of Oban is to be mothballed – because it has no pupils.

However, the school building on Luing will still be available for community events.

Luing, with a population of around 200, is one of the former slate quarrying islands and is accessed by ferry on a short trip across the swirling waters of the Cuan Sound.

The ferry leaves from the isle of Seil – connected to the mainland by the famous Bridge Over the Atlantic.

Argyll and Bute Council’s Community Services Committee agreed to mothball Luing Primary School on a temporary basis until June 2022.

The school premises will be retained on a care and maintenance basis and the community has been promised pre-arranged access to the building for community functions.

Luing Primary School.

In the intervening period, the council’s Education Services department will gather information, identify all reasonable options and assess those options to consider the future of the school. These findings will be presented to the committee in the form of an
options appraisal in June 2022.

Reporting to the committee, council officer Susie Sinclair said: “Since August this year no pupils have attended Luing Primary School. The only pupil in the catchment area attends nearby Easdale Primary and the only nursery aged pupil on Luing also attends Easdale nursery.”

Councillor Kieron Green, of the Oban North and Lorn ward, asked: “If there were any additional pupils coming in of school age would there be potential to open it at relatively short notice?”

Anne Paterson, chief education officer, said: “We would be required to review that situation and have a discussion with parents about what they all felt was best for their young people at that point in time.”

Ms Sinclair added: “We are consulting as strongly as possible with communities. If any new situations emerge we are open to that. It is a fluid situation.”

Councillor Elaine Robertson, also of the Oban North and Lorn ward, said: “This is of great concern to the residents on Luing. I welcome the fact that there will be an opportunity until 2022 to see if there are any changes.

“Thank you for allowing pre-arranged access to the building for community functions. This keeps the school building alive, if not the pupil content.”

The island is six miles long and one and a half miles wide. The largest centre of population is at Cullipool in the north west of the island.

Slate quarrying was carried out on Luing for many years. It was still being extracted from the quarries at the north end of Cullipool until 1965.

At its height the industry employed 170 men on the island and extracted three quarters of a million slates each year.

Luing is famous for its breed of Luing Cattle – The resident farmer is Shane Cadzow, whose late father, also Shane, was the eldest of the three Cadzow brothers who founded the Luing breed on the island in 1947.

Luing cattle were developed as a commercial beef breed hardy enough to prosper under adverse weather.

Luing open day

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