A FORMAL presumption against closing rural schools is being considered by the Scottish Government.
Ministers are seeking the views of the public and education groups on the process that has to be carried out when a school is shut.
It follows several disputes in recent years, including those linked to planned closures in Argyll and Bute and the Western Isles.
The consultation process, which is open until September and available on the government website, will look at the basis for determining closures.
The Scottish Government proposals also include a clause that councils would have to put forward all financial information on the impact of shutting a school, allowing parents to scrutinise the plans fully.
Mike Russell, education secretary, conceded that it was an “emotive issue for communities” but said it is important such decisions are made in an “open effective and transparent measure”.
“Rural schools have particular importance to the local economy and the viability of rural communities. I want to ensure we have measures in place to protect and enhance that, while still providing councils with the flexibility they need,” he said.
Liz Smith, education spokeswoman for the Scottish Conservatives, said it was clear that the current process for closures was “deeply flawed”.
“I welcome the opportunity for public consultation following the recommendations made by the Commission on the Delivery of Rural Education,” she added.