1600 object to schools' merger plan

MORE than 1600 objections have been lodged against a council proposal to merge two high schools.

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North Lanarkshire Council plans to close Abronhill High – made famous in the 1980s hit film Gregory's Girl – and move its 480 pupils to Cumbernauld High a couple of miles away.

It is understood the Abronhill closure would save the council more than £1million a year.

If the plan goes ahead, Cumbernauld High would later be replaced by a new school.

But the public response to the council's consultation period was "considerable and unprecedented" and overall, the responses were "significantly against the proposal", according to a newly published report by the council.

A decision on the matter will be taken by councillors at a meeting next month.

The Save Abronhill High group has campaigned against the plans and has won the support of Cumbernauld MSP Jamie Hepburn and Taggart actor Colin McCredie, whose wife used to teach at the school.

Among the group's objections against the proposal is a concern about the route pupils would have to walk to reach Cumbernauld High and the impact on the community should the school close.

Included in the council's report is a section prepared by Education Scotland.

Mr Hepburn said: "Education Scotland clearly set out a number of reservations about the council's proposal, and are unconvinced, as I and many others are, that it is motivated by educational benefit for the children at both Abronhill and Cumber-nauld High schools.

"They also correctly set out that the wider impact on the community has not been factored in.

"I believe both schools can have a bright future with the proper support from the local authority, and my own preference is for Abronhill High to become a commun-ity hub with a number of other services provided from site, with the school at its heart, and for a smaller new-build at Cumbernauld High."

A council spokesman said: "The two main reasons for the proposal are that both schools are significantly under occupied and the rationalisation will bring savings to allow a new school to be built.

"The level of response was considerable and unprecedented in volume. The report, at this stage, makes no recommendations.

"A report with rec-ommendations will be considered by councill-ors on Wednesday, February 6."

stef.lach@heraldandtimes.co.uk

Education

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