Catholic leaders object to school closure

Wednesday February 1st 2023


St Matthews Roman Catholic Primary School in Rosewell.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Catholic church leaders have raised concerns over plans to close a second Roman Catholic primary school in Midlothian in a year as part of budget cuts.

Midlothian Council has published a wide range of proposals to help it bridge a £14million budget gap for the coming year including closing St Matthews Primary School, in Rosewell, which has 51 pupils.

But a meeting of councillors yesterday heard the Archdiocese of the Catholic Church opposed the move and were concerned to see another denominational school targeted less than a year after one in Loanhead was told it would close.

Anne-Theresa Lawrie appeared on behalf of the Archdiocese and quoted the late South African leader Nelson Mandela as a reminder to councillors about the importance of education.

She said: “Nelson Mandela said education is the most powerful weapon with which we can change the world. It has an impact on the lives of vulnerable young people and affects their life chances.”

Urging councillors to reconsider the inclusion of the school in the savings plan, she said: “We are very concerned this proposal is on the table. The Catholic estate has been reviewed and as a result of that St Margarets Primary School, in Loanhead, was closed.

“We are very concerned that it is another denominational school which is on the agenda for possible closure.

“On behalf of the Archdiocese we oppose this closure and the impact it would have on the community and the education for young people.”

St Margarets Primary School was told it was closing last February after education chiefs said it did not have a single pupil on its rolls.

They denied claims from some parents that they were discouraged from registering their children at the school or told they could not in a bid to “run down” the school.

At yesterday’s meeting Conservative group leader Councillor Peter Smaill described the inclusion of the school in the savings proposals as “problematic” as he questioned the legality of such a move.

He told the committee: “It is by law the case that schools cannot be closed on financial grounds and I will be pursuing that in the weeks ahead.”

The savings plan says of the proposed closure “The proposal is to seek council approval to undertake a statutory consultation on the closure of St Matthew’s RC PS.



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