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North-East SNP Councillors Meet With Education Secretary

>> 30 June 2011

Members of Aberdeenshire SNP Group had a very positive and informative meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell, in Edinburgh this week. Mr Russell welcomed the opportunity to discuss rural school closures and the moratorium.

Cllr Joanna Strathdee (Huntly, Strathbogie & Howe of Alford), leader of the SNP Group, said after the meeting that she felt that the meeting had been beneficial and welcomed the Cabinet Minister’s comments on the establishment of a Commission on the Delivery of Rural Education and its associated moratorium on school closures.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Strathdee said:

“To enable the Commission to undertake its work within a positive and proper context, there obviously needs to be a moratorium on closures to create the space necessary to enable a comprehensive and fair assessment of the present school closure process and allow clear thinking on how it can be improved.”

SNP Group Education spokesperson and former teacher Cllr Jean Dick (Mearns) said:

“I welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s clarification on the need for a moratorium, we have to make sure that schools are not being closed for the wrong reasons and that communities do not suffer in the process. It is clear that there have been widely differing interpretations of the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010 by local authorities and communities which now require reinforcement of the presumption against closure and find a revised means of supporting the delivery of education in rural area.”

Cabinet Secretary, Michael Russell MSP said:

“The meeting with Cllr Strathdee and her colleagues was very productive. The Commission on Rural Education will play a vital role in helping us better recognise the very specific challenges that can face Scotland’s rural communities and the role of many rural schools in providing the focal point for a whole community and ensuring better life chances. I look forward to the Commission being formally established in the near future”.

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