No plans to close Crathie School

Aberdeenshire Council has said there are no plans to close a Deeside school, despite only having one child on the roll.

Crathie School reopened for the new Autumn term last week with a single pupil, after several children moved on to Aboyne Academy over the summer.

Under the Scottish Government’s moratorium on rural school closures, the children cannot be forced to go elsewhere – leaving it up to the parents to choose.

There were discussions about mothballing Crathie to see if the roll increased next year, but talks ended when the mother of the Crathie youngster decided to keep her daughter at the school.

Local councillor Geva Blackett said it is a difficult situation for the family.

“The interests of the child are paramount,” Cllr Blackett said.

“It is obviously a difficult situation. Yes, the family want individual tuition but is that in the child’s best interests particularly regarding social development? Only they can answer that.

“A move to Braemar or Ballater may be in the best interests and should be considered. The teacher, who is excellent, could move as well to provide continuity.

“The school should not be closed but mothballed which would allow for measures to be taken to increase the roll, allowing the child to move back if that was wished. As always, I am happy to be involved with officers to effect a way forward.”

The price of running the school was understood to cost around £15,000 per pupil last year.

A spokeswoman from Aberdeenshire Council said: “We can confirm that at this time there is one pupil on the school roll at Crathie.

“We are aware this raises a number of issues which are currently being considered at a national level.

“Providing a high quality of education to all our pupils in Aberdeenshire is our top priority.

“Over the last year Aberdeenshire Council has carried out an extensive consultation of its school estate to provide a fuller picture of issues and priorities across the area.

“Pupil numbers at Crathie have been fluctuating for a number of reasons and the council has monitored the situation closely. There are no plans to close the school at this stage.”