Green councillors launch bid to overturn Thursday school ban

Green councillors have urged the City Council to shelve a ban on community groups using schools on Thursdays.

It has emerged this week that, as of 1 April, no lets will be available in primary schools on Thursdays.  Further, the Council has said that it will honour existing Thursday lets only until August.

The Council has defended the measure, saying that is needed to balance the budget.  However, parents and community groups have slammed the move as deeply unimaginative.

In a letter to Education Convenor, Marilyne McLaren, Green councillor Alison Johnstone has argued that the ban be put on hold until several urgent questions can be answered.  These include:

– What appraisal of options was undertaken to address any underperformance of lets rather than simply closing schools

– What consultation was undertaken with parent groups and community groups

– What assessment has been undertaken of the impact on other Council priorities such as encouraging sport and healthy activity and supporting communities.

Councillor Johnstone, who sits on the Education Committee, said:

“I am dismayed at the decision to ban community groups from schools on Thursdays.  In no way was this option adequately outlined to councillors and there has been no dialogue with parents and community groups, many of whom have longstanding commitments to schools.

“I believe that our schools should be treasured as community assets, not just places of learning during weekdays.  We should be seeking to encourage greater out of hours use, not less.  If there is an issue about income we should be looking again at the costs, the marketing and the arrangements to address this.

“Simply shutting up shop and kicking community groups into the cold is not acceptable.�