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Closure plans for rural Stirling school go out for consultation

Members of the public are being invited to have their say on proposals to permanently close Buchanan Primary School.

The school has been mothballed since January 2018 following a steady fall in enrolment over the previous five school sessions, with no children enrolled at the school in October 2017.

Stirling Council is asking for parents, children and young people, as well as the wider community to give their views on the mothballed school as part of a public consultation that opened this week.

Under the proposals the school would close permanently on June 24, or as soon as possible thereafter.

Pupils from the school’s catchment area would then be educated at Drymen Primary School from the 2022/23 session.

The catchment area of Drymen PS would be permanently extended to include the catchment area of Buchanan PS from June 25 next year – or as soon as possible after that date.

A public meeting will take place with the council’s chief education officer on Tuesday, October 19. This may be in-person or remote depending on the latest Covid-19 restrictions and is to be confirmed.

Children and young people convener Councillor Susan McGill said: “Any decision that is made on the future of Buchanan Primary School will take into account the views of the local community, parents, carers and young people.

“Following a three year period of inactivity, it’s a sensible course of action to open a discussion on whether or not the school should be permanently closed. I encourage everybody with an interest to take part in the public consultation.”

Vice convener Councillor Christine Simpson added: “I welcome the opening of the public consultation on the future of Buchanan Primary School and urge all stakeholders to make sure that their voices are heard.

“The prolonged period of inactivity that has led to the school being mothballed is the basis for the proposals put forward in the consultation, however, any decision made must consider the views of the local community.”

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Last June the then chief education officer Kevin Kelman told councillors that planned new housing developments had been factored in, adding: “Drymen Primary School has a planned extension so those needs are also all accounted for in that.

“The costs of mothballing Buchanan Primary are not significant at all. Staff were redeployed to other schools as part of these schools’ complement.

“There are costs around heating and maintaining the building but they are very small.”

At the start of the 2017/18 session there were five children enrolled at Buchanan Primary School but between August and September 2017 placing requests for all five children were submitted and accepted for Drymen Primary School. The schools have shared a headteacher since August 2011.

In a report last year education officials said: “For session 2018/19 there were six children for P1 enrolment who lived in the Buchanan PS catchment area. Five enrolled for P1 at Drymen PS and one child was accepted as a placing request to Killearn for P1.

“For session 2020/21 there are currently four children from the Buchanan catchment who are due to start P1 in August 2020. All of these children attend Croftamie Nursery. Two of these children have enrolled at Drymen PS. One has applied for a placing request to Killearn PS where siblings are at school. One has submitted a placing request to Gartocharn PS in West Dunbartonshire where a sibling is at school.

“In Drymen PS there are 35 children from the Buchanan catchment out of a roll of 116. The 35 are spread across P1 to P7. All of the children are settled at Drymen PS.”

The consultation is available online via the Engage Stirling platform until November 10.

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