Radical ideas like a “super school” for all 12,000 pupils in Moray are essential to drive debate about budget cuts, according to a leading councillor.
This week the authority used social media to pitch the idea of a huge campus to help find savings of £12million.
Opposition councillors condemned the ambitious idea as doing little to promote sensible discussions about stretched budgets.
But vice chairman of the children and young people’s committee, George Alexander, believes the idea of merging all 52 schools into the “super school” will encourage residents to think “out of the box”.
Mr Alexander said: “I don’t see how the school would be possible in a place like Moray because pupils will need to get there from all round the countryside.
“There’s been a lot of knee-jerk reactions to the idea of it. If that’s not acceptable and the status quo is not sustainable then the answer must be in-between. We need to find that.
“At the moment the education of children is being held back because they don’t have the facilities or are being taught by supply teachers not trained in that subject.
“I really am a big fan of one-secondary school towns though – it builds a community and shares resources. I really wish that it had happened in Elgin.”
Mr Alexander added that having too many schools in Moray caused the £94million education budget to be the least-efficient department at the council.
Schools in the region have been ranked as being in the worst condition in Scotland with a £152million repair bill.
The idea of campus’ for pupils from three to 18-years-old has support from members of the council’s administration.
But Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie believes having 12,000 students in the same buildings for classes would be “unworkable”.
He said: “Moray Council needs to stop wasting time with this obviously absurd plan and get back to finding a realistic solution that keeps schools at the heart of communities.
“The megaschool would have more pupils than there are undergraduates at Aberdeen University. On school days, it would be a town the same size as Forres. Children as young as four would have a commute of up to an hour each way.”