Glasgow & West Scotland

St Joseph's Primary closure proposal called in

St Joseph's Primary Image copyright Google

Controversial proposals to shut a Catholic school in East Dunbartonshire are to be examined by the Scottish government.

The government has "called in" proposals to shut St Joseph's Primary in Milngavie near Glasgow.

The council plans to build a new denominational primary in nearby Bearsden - replacing both St Joseph's and the school on the site at present.

Parents at St Joseph's and the Catholic Church have been fighting the plan.

East Dunbartonshire Council plans to merge St Joseph's Primary with St Andrew's Primary in neighbouring Bearsden.

Parents 'delighted'

The merged school would be sited in a new building on the current St Andrew's Primary School site.

When the Scottish government calls in any proposal to close a school, it examines the process followed by the council and the information used to reach the decision.

But it cannot simply overturn a decision because it disagrees with it.

A letter informing the council of the government's decision said ministers were concerned by allegations the council's consultation document contained inaccurate information.

It also said concerns raised by Education Scotland may not have been fully addressed by the council in the consultation.

A spokesman for the parents at St Joseph's said: "Parents are delighted that the Scottish government has decided to call this process in.

"It is now clear that the way East Dunbartonshire Council has conducted this process has more holes than a colander.

"We believe and ministers appear to agree that our children will receive the best possible education in their own community."

'Complex process'

Council leader Rhonda Gheekie said: "This is a complex process and it's understandable that the Scottish government wants to investigate the proposal further.

"We welcome the same opportunity to explain in greater detail the educational benefits that we believe will come from our proposal to build a new £9m denominational primary school for Bearsden and Milngavie.

"We understand the significance of any new school build for the local community and what we all have in common is that we want to get it right to ensure the best possible future education for the young people in the area."

The council said its proposals were part of its Primary School Improvement Programme to modernise the primary school estate. This aims to deliver state of the art primary schools which are better for pupils and cheaper to run and maintain.

Ms Geekie added: "The council must save a further £20m from its budget over the next three years. On top of the £40m we have already saved, doing nothing in terms of our school estate to help address this was never an option.

"We have to ensure that our school buildings are as cost-effective as they can possibly be to ensure that we are getting value for money from our budget spending."

Meanwhile, the council's plan to close two primary schools in Kirkintilloch and establish a new £7m school to replace them are to go ahead.

The new school there is expected to open in 2016 or 2017.