Levenmouth schools spared closure status

New Gilston Primary School
New Gilston Primary School

MOST parents in Levenmouth and the East Neuk can breathe a sigh of relief as both areas look like being let off relatively lightly when the outcome of Fife Council’s schools estate review are discussed next week.

On Tuesday the Council’s executive committee will be asked to consider a report which outlines a number of school closure proposals, with the aim of saving money by reducing some of the 16,000 surplus places.

At the meeting, councillors will be asked to agree to a number of permanent closures across the Kingdom, but won’t be asked to consider any in Levenmouth and will be asked to close just one school in the East Neuk.

That proposal is for New Gilston Primary School to close with it’s pupils moving to Largoward Primary School.

The only other impact the review is likely to have in the area is the suggestion that pupils from Dunino Primary School will move to Kingsbarns Primary School.

New Gilston Primary School only has one class of four children aged P1-P3 but its closure, which seems likely, would surely cause some disturbance, through travel and childcare arrangements at least, for those involved.

The school has however had close links to Largoward Primary School for some time now, which may minimise the upheaval,

This relationship includes a shared management team and the pupils already knowing each other through joint drama, music and art classes as well as assemblies, concerts and services.

Pupils from both schools also travel to St Andrews University Sports Centre for PE on Thursdays, where they are joined by Dunino Primary.

Like New Gilston, Largoward is a similarly small rural school but does have the luxury of having two classes: a composite P1-3 and P4-7.

Speaking ahead of next Tuesday’s executive committee meeting Councillor Bryan Poole, Fife Council’s spokesperson for education and learning, said: “This report marks the end of a five month review of our school estate.

“Next week councillors will be asked to consider proposals to consult with parents, pupils and the wider public on the school estate review. The proposed programme involves potential closures, catchment changes and investment.

“Our ultimate aim is to have the right number of buildings to support high quality education.

“This will mean that more money can be spent in supporting the education of all our young people rather than on the maintenance of under-utilised school buildings that, in a few cases, are in a less than satisfactory condition.

”The condition of so many schools in our school estate means it would be negligent for us to do nothing. Although that would be the easy option for us we have a duty to the children of Fife to ensure that the money we spend on education is spent wisely to the benefit of all.”

If the proposals are agreed they will be taken forward to a formal six-week consultation stage.

Liz Smith, Scottish Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife has already called for this process to be “fully transparent”.

Any final closure decision would not take effect until August 2014 at the earliest.