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Questions remain on school closure moratorium: McArthur

June 9, 2011 6:00 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Commenting after the Education Secretary's statement to the Scottish Parliament on his proposed one year moratorium on rural school closures, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP said:

"Last week's announcement by the Cabinet Secretary of a moratorium on rural school closures caught Councils in Scotland entirely by surprise. It was important, therefore, that Parliament had an early opportunity to scrutinise more of the detail behind the government's plans.

"In that sense, today's statement was useful but many questions still remain unanswered. For example, Mr Russell conceded that some rural schools will still close over the next year, yet he was not in a position to say which schools would be covered by the moratorium and which ones would not.

"Likewise, Mr Russell declined to say what steps he would take and in what timeframe should any Council decide not to accept his 'request' to implement a moratorium.

"And there was a point blank refusal by the Minister to accept that his decision would have any bearing on delivery of education or other Council services over the next month. This flies in the face of what many local Councils have been saying over the last week.

"It is essential that the Cabinet Secretary now engages directly with individual Councils to establish how he expects this moratorium to work in practice and what the implications are for education provision across the board. The establishment of the Commission on Rural Education is very welcome, but Councils across Scotland will be desperate for answers to the questions they have now."