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Aberdeenshire Council moves forward with closure of two north-east schools


By David Porter

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Aberdeenshire Council's eduction committee has approved the start formal closure consultations for two of the three currently mothballed schools.

There was unanimous support for the move, with councillors including Anne Stirling supporting the report, but also asking for the physical condition of the buildings to be monitored in the interim.

Easterfield School will undergo formal consulation on its closure. Picture: David Porter
Easterfield School will undergo formal consulation on its closure. Picture: David Porter

Easterfield

A decision to temporarily mothball Easterfield School from the start of the new academic year, August 2021, was taken by the Director of Education and Services, with annual extensions issued to date. Only two families expressed an interest in their children enrolling at the school for the 2022/23 session.

The report commented: "As no pupils have enrolled at Easterfield School for the 2023/24 session, either as Primary 1 pupils or families with older children wishing to transfer to a smaller rural school or through out of zone placing requests, it was necessary for the school to remain mothballed for the school session.

"As part of the options appraisal process, an online survey was arranged with the wider Fortrie community and the Community Council and following completion of the options appraisal, the majority of potential uses would require the building to be discontinued as a primary school for the Fortrie community.

"Therefore, the officer’s recommendation is to launch a formal statutory consultation to permanently close Easterfield School."

Officers have taken many factors into account while completing the options appraisal but the main driver must be what is educationally best for the children in the Easterfield catchment, now and in future years.

The proposal will be subject to consultation between February 5 and March 29 and a public meeting for stakeholders will be held on March 5 at 6pm at Turriff Primary School, Meadowbank Road, Turriff.

Fisherford

A decision to temporarily mothball Fisherford School from the start of the new academic year was taken in August 2021.

Only one family expressed an interest in their child enrolling at the schools for the 2022/23 session.

No pupils have enrolled at Fisherford School for the 2023/24 session, either as Primary 1 pupils, or families with older children wishing to transfer to a smaller rural school or through out of zone placing requests.

Following completion of the options appraisal, the majority of potential uses would require the building to be discontinued as a primary school for the Fisherford community. Therefore, the officer’s recommendation is to launch a formal statutory consultation to permanently close Fisherford School.

The proposal document regarding the closure of Fisherford School will be subject to consultation between February 5 and March 29 and a public meeting for stakeholders will be held on March 6 at 6pm at Turriff Primary School, Meadowbank Road, Turriff but councillor Stirling has asked if an alternative venue of Auchterless could be looked at for this, with a reply awaited from officers.

Clatt school remains mothballed at present with an options report under review.

In a separate report looking at the overall learning estate, officers indicate that Aberdeenshire Council will commence a comprehensive review of

educational benefits across the estate and will carry out detailed option appraisals for each school cluster.

Consideration will be given to school rolls, utilisation, geography, class sizes, condition, suitability, school transport and carbon footprint.

Officers propose to commence with the Banff, Turriff and Westhill Clusters as Phase 1 of this project.


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