Strachan School: consultation on closure

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Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee will carry out a statutory consultation to close a Banchory school.

A number of reports regarding the future of Strachan School have been brought to the committee in previous years.

The school is currently ‘mothballed’ and has had no pupils since the end of the 2016/17 session.

Officers have engaged with the local community regarding the future of the school and all potential uses suggested would require the building to be discontinued as a primary school.

The commitee was recommended to agree to undertake the consultation and receive a further report on the outcome.

However councillor Martin Ford proposed an amendment to delay the decision for a year.

He said: “My problem with this is that this really ought to be a thriving school. We’ve closed other schools because the rolls have dropped through natural processes to tiny numbers and the remaining parents had said there isn’t enough pupils here to make it a viable school and we decided that actually the school’s natural life had come to an end.

“This is rather different. This should have a reasonable number of pupils at it but people have decided not to send their children to that school and ultimately if that continues then the council will have to close the school.

“We do apparently have some potential future interest in sending pupils to the school from families in place, we have an expectation that there may be some pupils that would come from further development, it may be that the current condition is a temporary situation which will right itself when others do decide they want their children to go for education in the local community.”

Other committee members disagreed with councillor Ford and voiced their support for the recommendations.

Councillor Moira Ingleby said: “We have been discussing this for a very long time, I think the options truly have been considered. It says in our report here that since November 2015 the roll has not exceeded five children, I think the educational benefits for these children is being met where they are now. The parents have decided to put their children elsewhere, and I think we should respect that. The time is right now for this stage to be considered.”

Following discussion the committee decided to approve the recommendation to go ahead with the statutory consultation.

It is proposed that the consultation will run from January 7-February 21.

Marr Area Committee will have the chance to comment afterwards and a report will be issued to the Education and Children’s Services Committee outlining officers’ recommendations.

If the officer and committee recommend that the school should be closed then the matter will be taken to the full council for a final decision.