Falkirk school closures: ‘Sad but inevitable’ move say councillors

The final decision to permanently close two primary schools in Falkirk was "sad but inevitable", councillors have agreed.

By Kirsty Paterson, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 5:20 pm

Bothkennar and Limerigg Primary Schools were both mothballed two years ago after the number of pupils attending fell to below ten and this year a consultation began to close them for good.

Members of Falkirk Council's education, children and young people executive heard the consultations were overwhelmingly in agreement that it made sense to close them.

In Bothkennar, 430 people were sent consultation letters and seven replies were received.

Falkirk Council has formally rubber-stamped the closures

Just one - from a person who does not live in the area - said they did not agree with the proposal.

But there was sadness, even among those who agreed with Falkirk Council's education department that pupils in larger primary schools get a much better experience.

Two people attended the public meeting that was held online because of the pandemic.

One said: "I just feel it was a great school in its time and it was thriving. The village isn’t thriving now.

"The issue isn’t the school has to close, there is an inevitability and afeeling in the village that it does have to go, it’s unsustainable, you can’t afford this as a council and as a service."

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Both those attending said they were worried about the future of the community, the infrastructure of the village and the change in the population demographics with no young people coming into the village.

However, members of the community were delighted that a mosaic created by former pupils will be preserved and moved to Beancross Primary, which Skinflats pupils now attend.

In Limerigg, 208 letters were sent to consultees and 10 replies were received, with two local residents objecting to the closure.

Parents with children at school said they were happy with their children attending a larger school.

And a member of staff at Slamannan Primary Limerigg pupils had thrived since the move, and that the "increase in self-confidence amongst those pupils was a joy to see as they grew".

Again the consultation revealed worries around what the school building and grounds will be used for - and what the closure would mean for the wider community.

One response said: "There is very little left of the meagre amenities that once were in place. A small village hall and a swing park is all that is left. The only shop, a small post office shop, was closed some years' ago, and the picturesque Church was demolished. There is no health centre. The bus service has been reduced. The closest place to properly access shops and amenities is Falkirk (8 miles away)."

Councillor Adanna McCue, the SNPs education spokesperson, said that the decision to close schools had not been easy.

She said: "It is upsetting for a community when they lose a school because a lot of the time the life of a community revolves around a school - but it is necessary for our children to get the best education."

She thanked education staff for the work mothballing the schools which had been done sensitively and made the final closures easier.

The council's decision still has to be approved by the Scottish Government.

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