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Local Councillor Comments on Longhaven School Decision with Warning to Other Small Rural Schools

>> 1 July 2022

Peterhead South and Cruden Councillor Stephen Smith has told a meeting of Aberdeenshire Council’s Full Council that lessons need to be learned from the mothballing and subsequent closure of Longhaven School.

The SNP councillor was heavily involved in the successful 2004 campaign to save the school from closure. However, following the transfer of the Headteacher of the single-teacher school to a new post in 2018, Aberdeenshire Council failed to put in place alternative staffing arrangements and the school was temporarily closed in 2018 and subsequently mothballed.

Commenting, Councillor Stephen Smith said:

“While it’s extremely disappointing that such a well-regarded school which the local community fought so hard to save from closure in 2004 has got to this stage, the general view in the community is one of resignation that the school will close. No one is going to apply to send their child to a school which is currently mothballed and has no teacher, so the conclusion to this was always fairly obvious.

“While there should never be a limit placed on the career-progression of teaching staff, it should have been entirely possible for the council to put in place a short-term solution until a new appointment was made which did not involve what was at that point a temporary closure and the children transferred to different schools.

“Aberdeenshire Council should be supporting rural communities and I would strongly urge the Education Department to reflect on their processes, which may very well affect other single-teacher schools in rural areas and place them under threat of mothballing and closure.”

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