Closure of Skipness school a step closer

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The end of Skipness Primary School is a step nearer as a recommendation to accept a proposal to close it has been put to councillors.

The school has been mothballed since 2016 and has had no pupils enrolled during that time.

The annual cost of mothballing the school to Argyll and Bute Council is more than £1,600 and it would cost £75,000 to bring the building back up to a required standard for the next school term in August.

Members of the council’s community services committee were due to debate the proposal at a meeting yesterday (Thursday, March 12).

If accepted, the plan to close the school will be subject to statutory consultation under the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010.

A report by Douglas Hendry, executive director with responsibility for education, said: ‘It is proposed that education provision at Skipness Primary School be discontinued with effect from October 28, 2020.

‘The catchment area of Tarbert Primary School shall be extended to include the current catchment area of Skipness Primary School.

‘Skipness Primary School has been mothballed for three years. The school roll is very low and not predicted to rise in the near future. The annual cost of the mothballing of the building is £1,641.

‘Along with several other rural councils, Argyll and Bute is facing increasing challenges in recruiting staff. At the time of writing there are 12 full-time equivalent vacancies for teachers in Argyll and Bute.

‘While the school is mothballed, the building is deteriorating with limited budget for maintenance.’

The school’s future first went out to consultation after the committee’s September meeting, with a further update given in December.

An options appraisal engagement event was also held in October, with 22 people in attendance, who were asked for their views on what should happen next.

The report added: ‘Of the 22 community members that attended the options appraisal engagement event, no one was in support of reopening the school because the lack of feasibility due to low pupil numbers.

‘If the school were to reopen in August 2020, the maximum pupil numbers from the catchment would be one.’