Ministers seek public views on rural education

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Borders residents are being urged to give their views ahead of a possible shake-up of Scottish education

Cabinet Secretary for Education, Michael Russell launched a consultation in response to the Report of the Commission of the Delivery of Rural Education, which is open for anyone with an interest to respond to.

The Commission put forward proposals to improve the delivery of education, a number of which require changes to the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010.

The consultation period is set to finish on September 2.

South of Scotland MSP Paul Wheelhouse, who lives in Ayton, said: “School closures anywhere are an emotive issue but rural education has become even more of a focus with the budget cuts many local authorities face and, as a former Parent Council chair, I know that it is an issue that is of great concern to parents and staff in our smaller rural schools in particular.

“I know Scottish Borders Council takes very seriously the implications of such budget changes and that, while there have been welcome assurances most recently from them on the future of Kelso primary schools, it is important that matters surrounding school closures are dealt with in an open and transparent way, which is why this consultation is so important for our communities across the region.”

The SNP MSP continued: “I am confident that any measures put in place will protect and enhance the importance we all recognise rural schools have in our communities, while allowing local authorities the flexibility they need to ensure their education priorities can be met.”

Prior to his political career, Mr Wheelhouse was a professional economist. From 1992, he specialised in higher and further education markets and policy evaluation. He urged Borders residents to make their voices heard.

“I would encourage anyone in the Scottish Borders with an interest in the future of our rural schools to consider submitting their views to this consultation to ensure that the views of the Scottish Borders community are well represented,” he said.

“By doing this we can maximise the chances for the Scottish Borders’ perspective to be reflected in new legislation which aims to deliver for education, but also for local economies and communities such as our own.”