School closures to go ahead

The Scottish Government appeal in the Judicial Review of the call in notices for Carloway and Shawbost Schools has not been upheld.

Speaking in response to the judgement, Cllr Catriona Stewart, Chair of Education and Children’s Services on Comhairle nan EIlean Siar, said: “Today’s judgement confirms that the Comhairle treated all communities fairly in its schools consultation process and that the Comhairle acted in accordance with the Government’s Schools (Consultation) Act 2010. It clearly demonstrates that the consultation process was rigorous, open, transparent and fair.

“This has been a long process and it is in everyone’s interest that a conclusion has now been reached. This welcome decision provides children, parents, staff and the Authority with certainty over the future of Educational provision for the communities of Carloway and Shawbost.

“The Comhairle will now plan and work with the schools for a smooth transition and we will be communicating with all parents and staff at the two schools over the next few days. The Comhairle has always, and will continue, to strive to provide the best possible education for all our pupils in the best possible facilities.”

Comhairle Leader Angus Campbell said: “This is a welcome judgement which demonstrates that the Comhairle’s procedures were fair, transparent and fully compliant with the law.

“I would thank the Court for producing their judgement in time to allow for a planned transition for pupils and staff and the Comhairle will now set to that task. This judgement will also give reassurance to other communities in the Western Isles where schools did close that they were treated fairly and in accordance with, and indeed beyond, the statutory regulations.”

Education Secretary Michael Russell said: “Today’s judgement means that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is now able to proceed to close the Carloway Primary and S1-2 Provision at Shawbost.

“Clearly I am disappointed in this ruling, and wish that it had been possible to reach agreement with the Comhairle to keep the schools open.

“I know that the Comhairle will be sensitive in dealing with the difficult process of closure and with the communities and parents who will be devastated by this news. I wish them and the Council well in taking forward this process.” Carloway currently has 15 pupils. Shawbost S1/S2 has 35.