Barcaldine Parent Council : first response to threatened closure

Draft response from Parent Council for meeting on 2nd November

– Please read –  all Comments welcome –

Barcaldine Primary School Parent Council are of the very strong and unanimous opinion. that the ‘Ardchattan’ document completely fails to make any case for closing Barcaldine School .

The council’s own figures show that the school currently provides by far the cheapest per-pupil education in North Lorn and also has the lowest energy use and smallest carbon footprint. The figures  suggest that savings from closing Barcaldine would be marginal at best and certainly do not justify the social and educational damage that would result.

The school is consistently at or near its full capacity, an indication of the school’s success and the high regard parents have for the excellence of the education our children receive at Barcaldine Primary.

Barcaldine is an expanding community with new housing recently completed and with plans for more expansion in the housing stock. There is also a healthy number of pre-school children in the community. It is very unlikely that the school role will fall anytime in the near future.

No-one among the community and beyond who has sent their children to the school would accept that there are any demonstrable educational grounds for the move. Indeed we are concerned that moving our children will result in a poorer educational experience than they currently receive and nothing in the document convinces us otherwise.

There is no evidence that children from schools similar in size to Barcaldine have worse outcomes at secondary level and beyond either in social or academic terms. Our own experience would suggest the opposite.

We can all see that there is a need for savings, and that there are probably some schools with real viability problems which may have to close or at least be moth-balled. There is, however, not a scrap of evidence that Barcaldine should be one these.

More generally, there is no acknowledgement in the document of the importance of the school to our community. The brief and oblique reference to the amount of community use of school buildings – conveniently ignores Barcaldine.

The school is the heart and sole focus of the community: we have no shop, post office, community hall or church. Loss of the school would leave Barcaldine merely a collection of houses and damage the very social fabric that makes it such a great place to raise children.

Our function is to represent the educational interests of the community of Barcaldine but we cannot let the general thrust of the proposals go unchallenged.

We are appalled that the Council are proposing such a drastic closure programme. Closing schools to save money in the short term creates long-term structural changes in the population of rural communities which cannot be easily reversed.

The Council must consider whether these changes, which would result from closing one in three of its rural primary schools, can really be reconciled with its oft-stated aspiration to be Scotlands ‘Leading Rural Authority’ and its aim to support ‘sustainable communities’.

In summary, Barcaldine is an excellent school with a full roll. Shutting the school would have little or no financial benefit but would result in very real damage to our children and to our community. We see no justification whatsoever in promoting its closure.

If Barcaldine is confirmed as a target for closure then we will utilise every resource available to us to reverse this decision

October 31, 2010   Posted in: argyll and bute council, Barcaldine, Community, Schools

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