Doubts have been raised about the future of three Moray primary schools after they were described as “unsustainable” by the council’s education department.
An educational review about the future of schools in the Speyside catchment area revealed Craigellachie, Glenlivet and Inveravon are no longer considered “viable”.
The latter is currently mothballed, with no pupils being registered there for the last two academic years.
Senior councillors insist no school is under threat of immediate closure as officials are waiting until all catchment areas within Moray have been reviewed before making a decision.
Craigellachie Primary School has been labelled unsustainable because it is currently less than half full, with capacity projected to drop further over the next seven years.
Meanwhile, Glenlivet has only 16 pupils – 38% full – with the review suggesting that its “insufficient capacity and high costs to the council in future years” will make it difficult to retain the school.
The two schools are well-thought of by pupils, parents and inspectors whose reports have praised the quality of education they offer.
Chairwoman of the Children’s and Young People’s committee Sonya Warren insisted that despite the findings there would be no closures in the “immediate future”.
She said: “This is another part of the initial schools for the future review that offers good insight into the school system.
“There is no one size fits all approach to this and this information will go towards how we can improve the quality of education and how we can make it better.
“Lots of things need to be done before a school can be closed, including consultations so there are lots of things to be balanced and there will be no school closures in the immediate future, as far as I can see.”
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
Recommendations suggested to make Craigellachie more sustainable included merging the primary with Rothes, Aberlour, Mortlach or moving the campus to Speyside High.
Suggestions for Glenlivet appear to be a merger with Tomintoul or Mortlach and re-zoning pupils or retaining it but spending money renovating the building, which is C-rated.
Vivienne Cross, head of schools and curriculum development at the local authority, has recommended a project lead be put in place to ensure education across the Speyside area is maintained.
She said: “Individual reports highlight that not all schools in Speyside ASG are
sustainable and viable.
“The effects of a ‘Make do and mend’ policy decision is having a negative impact on many of the educational buildings within the ASG, with considerable variance in the quality of educational environment across Moray.
“In order to sustain education across the Speyside ASG, a project lead should
be identified to consider all options and to fully appraise them in order to make
final recommendations to Moray Council to maximise educational benefits
and ensure a sustained, quality learning experience for the children across
Speyside Glenlivet councillor and former school teacher Derek Ross is adamant that Glenlivet and Craigellachie schools should be kept open due to their excellent inspection reports.
He said: “These are two schools that had very good inspection reports and they cannot be unsustainable on those grounds.
“We have to be careful moving children around, especially in Speyside which covers huge areas – and these are four and five-year-olds we are talking about.
“The community wants them open, parents are happy with them and you have to understand Moray is a rural area and there is more than one way of delivering education as big isn’t always beautiful school wise.
“I am not in favour of closing either of them.”
Moray Council’s education department’s recommendations will be debated at a meeting of the children and young people’s committee on Wednesday.