Glenrothes councillor Peter Grant has welcomed the news that the Scottish Government has ‘called in’ Fife Council’s decision to close Tanshall Primary School.
Councillor Grant, who has been campaigning to keep the school from closure alongside parents, said the Government’s action vindicated claims that the council had failed to take proper account of arguments against the closure.
Councillor Grant told the Gazette: “Fife Council’s process has been flawed from the beginning.
“At every step along the way parents, carers and pupils have told the council they had got it wrong and at every step along the way the Council has ignored them.
“They even dismissed the serious concerns raised by HM Inspectors of Education, claiming that the inspectors didn’t know what “educational benefit” meant.”
The Fife authority agreed in February the closure of five schools across the region, including Tanshall Primary School, as part of a Fife-wide review into the school estate.
But campaigners have argued all along that to close a school the case needed to be made on educational grounds, which they feel, Fife Council and education bosses have never made.
Councillor Grant, who had written to Education Secretary Mike Russell asking for the decision to be called in, commended the tireless work done by local campaigners trying to save the school.
“These people have had so many knock-downs from Fife Council but they’ve refused to give up,” said the councillor.
“They presented a case that the council simply couldn’t argue against.
“They fully understand that the Minister’s decision might still go against them, but the fact that he has called in the decision at least gives us hope that the school can still be saved.”
There has been mounting pressure for the closure move to be ‘called in’ for ministerial scrutiny.
MSP’s Annabelle Ewing and Tricia Marwick have already backed the ‘call in’ request, with Mrs Marwick, the presiding officer at the Scottish Parliament, meeting with the Education Secretary last week to discuss the closure.
While there is no guarantee that the school will be kept open, it will allow for detailed scrutiny of of the Fife authority’s decision making process and public consultation, an aspect of the closure proposal that has been widely criticised by parents and campaigners since the review was first made public in March, 2013
Shelagh McLean, Fife Council directorate resources manager, said: “Fife Council fully appreciates the importance of these decisions and looks forward to working with the Scottish Government to provide any information required to enable them to reach a final decision.”
‘A flawed process from the beginning’
April 2013 - closure of Tanshall Primary School mooted for first time in Fife-wide review of school estate.
May 2013- Alex Rowley, then leader of Fife Council, accepts petition from parents demonstrating outside FifeHouse.
May 2013 - parents march through streets of Glenrothes.
May 2013 - parents question education officials at Area Committee.
June 2013 - Consultation process starts.
February 2014 - Executive Committe decide to go ahead with closure.
April 2014- Education Secretary Mike Russell agrees to call in.