Councillors respond to ‘shocking’ accusation relating to school debacle

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Ongoing issues at Campbeltown Grammar School were kept to the fore this week as elected representatives had their say over the matter.

Councillor Donald Kelly contacted the Courier after reading last week’s front page story in which former Grammar School pupil and member of the community Tommy Macpherson voiced concern over a ‘lack of transparency’ on the part of Argyll and Bute Council adding: ‘The lack of engagement by our elected ward councillors has been absolutely shocking.’

Argyll First Councillor Kelly defended the role that all six Kintyre members hold: ‘I have been raising issues on a regular basis at the MAKI Area Committee meetings regarding Campbeltown Grammar School.

‘I am well aware of the current concerns which have been raised and have been in dialogue with many parents both individually and collectively.

‘I have had numerous discussions with the director of the service Douglas Hendry and relayed my and parents’ concerns to him.’

The issue arose after the school received a second poor report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) in the space of two years while also dropping to 334th out of 337 schools for pupils who left school with five Highers on a recent league table published by The Times.

A statement released by Argyll and Bute Council (ABC) last week outlined steps that had been taken to improve the situation.

Councillor Kelly said he recognised the school had recently made some progress and felt it would benefit from another full HMI inspection followed by the council putting in the necessary support to enable staff and pupils to move forward.

‘I also think the council needs to look carefully at the current management structure of the school as a priority,’ he added.

He also called on parents to make their feelings known to Mr Hendry and ABC’s policy lead for education Councillor Yvonne McNeilly.

Councillor Anne Horn, who is Children’s Champion for Mid Argyll, Kintyre and the Islands, said: ‘I appreciate the league tables do not reflect the whole school situation and wellbeing but the inspectorate report highlighted serious issues that required immediate and robust action.

‘I agree that the community should be  given transparent and factual advice that the progress continues to be made and the issues addressed.

‘I have asked officers to make that information available and to keep the school community updated both when positive action is recorded and when there might be issues that do require attention.’

Speaking to the Courier this week Councillor McNeilly that she had ‘every confidence in the route of engagement by the executive director and his senior team to engage with the school community and the community councils’.

‘They have my full support in this,’ she said, adding that local members had been kept up to date on matters as well.

See letters July 23 2021 to read the response from Councillor John Armour.