TWO closure-threatened primary schools in Aberdeen have been saved from being axed.
The city council’s coalition administration today announced they are to abandon controversial proposals to merge four primaries in the city which would have resulted in the closure of two schools in the Northfield and Bridge of Don areas of the city.
The proposals to amalgamate the Middleton Park and Glashieburn schools in the Bridge of Don and the Bramble Brae with Quarryhill primaries in Northfield had sparked a storm of protest by angry parents of pupils at the closure threatened Bramble Brae and Middleton Park schools.
But today Councillor Jenny Laing, the convener of the council’s education, culture and sport committee, revealed that the Labour-led administration is to shelve the closure proposals following a public consultation exercise.
And she praised the strong arguments against closure put forward by parents at the four primaries and the wider communities during the “difficult and uncertain” period of the public consultation.
She said: “All four have shown an overwhelmingly positive ethos and admirable solidarity. They argued their case with great passion and pride and we have been extremely impressed with the positive way in which the communities ran their campaigns.”
Ms Laing said the administration had now formed a “clear view” that the interests of pupils and the communities of Bridge of Don and Northfield would best be served by keeping all four primaries open.
She continued: “I have listened closely to what the school communities have had to say and I am now convinced that keeping all four schools open is best for the children, best for parents, best for the school staff and best for the local communities.
“We said right from the start that we were going to run a very real consultation, with no foregone conclusions. We said we would listen to all concerned and this is exactly what we have done.”
Councillor Laing stressed: “The administration always said that any decision to amalgamate would have to be founded firmly upon educational benefits and I am far from convinced that any would accrue. The financial aspects didn’t really figure in the equation on this occasion.”
Councillor Ross Thomson, the committee’s vice convener, said: “Today is a victory for the parents and pupils who have worked so hard to show how great their schools are. They all actively engaged
with the council during the consultation period and I hope that today’s decision provides reassurance to those communities in the run up to Christmas.”
The committee’s decision is expected to be ratified at the next meeting of the Education, Culture and Sport Committee meeting on 30 January.
Mark McDonald, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Donside, welcomed the administration’s decision. He said: “Today is a fantastic day for the parents and pupils of the affected schools who have campaigned so vigorously to make the council see sense and drop their wrongheaded closure plans.
“The overwhelming opposition to the closure of these primary schools was the key issue in the Donside by-election and I vowed that fighting these closures would be my top priority if elected.”
He added: “I have been proud to stand up for these communities, but the real credit rightly belongs to the parents, pupils and members of the wider community who have fought so hard on behalf of the schools and the rights of the children.
“They have gone to extraordinary lengths to fight these closure plans and secure the best education possible for their kids and this announcement will be a most welcome early Christmas present for them.”
Mr McDonald claimed: “These closure plans were always about saving money and never about the education of the children affected. They were completely unjustifiable and it is entirely right that it seems they have at long last been dropped.”