Green Party Education spokesperson Alison Johnstone today called for an extension to the consultation period on the proposal to close Westburn Primary School.
Councillor Johnstone said “Inaccurate points regarding the school roll, the condition of Westburn School and the ‘Fitness for Purpose’ of the school have been identified in the original consultation papers issued by the Council.Â These papers were available for several weeks before an Erratum notice correcting them was issued. This didn’t occur until after the Public Meeting where local people informed officials of this catalogue of errors.”
At the Education Committee where the decision to consult was taken, Councillor Johnstone alone had asked that the consultation papers be approved by the Committee as a whole, rather than delegating this responsibility to the Director. Councillor Johnstone said today
“The Scottish Government’s own consultation guidance highlights the importance of fair and thorough consultation. If local people have no faith in the consultation process, they will certainly have very little faith in the outcome.”
The consultation paper states that Westburn has the lowest roll in the city, when in fact it is fourteenth lowest. It states that dining takes place in the “principal circulation areas” instead of in the school hall, and it would have us believe that the school is in very poor physical condition when in fact it is evaluated as “Satisfactory”, second only to “Good” on the Council’s four point scale. Boilers have been replaced, a new and well insulated roof added, lighting and toilets upgraded.
Councillor Johnstone said “It comes as no surprise that parents perceive the Council’s consultation as merely a ‘tick box’ exercise when basic errors like this are distributed.
(1) The Scottish Government’s School Closure Guidance states “Consultation is key to this whole process. If the process commands respect then, for the great majority of people, so will the outcome. Experience and ‘good practice’ both dictate that there should be a real emphasis here on both the quality and quantity of consultation. The emphasis should be on more consultation, more information, more time, rather than less; a fuller process rather than the minimum required to comply with the legislation. See point 30 at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Education/Schools/Buildings/guidance
For further information contact Alison Johnstone on 07973 110054