Glencorse primary school closure

Thursday August 27th 2020

Glencorse-Primary

Glencorse Primary School in Penicuik


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Parents were crushed during what was described as “cruel live TV” as plans to close their school were revealed over the internet.

Midlothian Council’s education chiefs revealed proposals to mothball Glencorse Primary School during a Zoom meeting with parents and councillors in June.

However, ward councillor Kelly Parry said that the news appeared to have come as a shock to parents, who were unprepared for the announcement.

At a meeting of the full council this week, she said she attended the meeting with parents.

She said: “It was like watching a cruel, live virtual TV experience where people were being crushed.

“People were really upset and I think it was a really cruel way to do it.”

The council was told that the majority of parents were against the plans to mothball the school and asked to approve a move to a formal consultation on their proposals now to close the school permanently.

Councillor Parry told the committee it was not the majority but all of the parents who opposed the ‘mothball’ plans and urged councillors not to support the consultation over its closure, which if approved would happen on June 25 next year.

Councillors were told that only seven pupils currently attended Glencorse Primary School, despite 73 children who would qualify living in its catchment area.

Councillor Andrew Hardie alleged that the catchment area for the school did not include Glencorse itself.

He said: ““It is a very important factor that the primary school is in Glencorse and the catchment area does not include Glencorse, which is an utterly nonsense situation.

“It is like it has been a very slow engineered process to drain the number of pupils out of the school so that they can find a reason to close it.”

However, that view was refuted by Sandra King from the council’s education team, who said she did not recognise his claim and suggested Councillor Hardie was referring to Glencorse Barracks.

Councillor Jim Muirhead told the meeting that when the army barracks was added, the army required 100 primary school places, which Glencorse could not accommodate, which is why it is not within its catchment.

Councillor Muirhead said he was also in the Zoom meeting with parents.

He said: “I attended the meeting with the parents with a view to try and get an agreement on mothballing, which would have enabled us to have consultations with community and parents to see what other alternatives could be explored, and I was quite surprised by the reaction of the parents.

“We have to get this in perspective; we have seven pupils at the school and there are 73 in the catchment area, so all this thing, suggesting almost gerrymandering, there are reasons for adjustments to catchment areas.”

Councillor Debbi McCall said the reason so few children in the catchment area attended the school was because families were being advised to go elsewhere.

She said: “Parents are not sending children to Glencorse because it is being suggested to them it is going to close. It then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. That is not good enough.”

The councillors were told that after parents refused to support mothballing the school, the next option for the council was to take it to a formal consultation over closing it permanently.

Councillors voted by 12 votes to three to approve the consultation, with Councillors Hardie, Parry and McCall opposing it and abstentions from Provost Peter Smaill and Councillor Kenneth Baird.

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