MP backs parents in battle to protect rural schools

PARENTS at rural schools near Dumfries fear their children's education is being undermined by damaging changes.

They warn that primary pupils' learning experience at Dunscore, Duncow and Moniaive is in real danger of deteriorating due to the removal of classroom assistants and reduction of special needs learning support. 

In the case of Dunscore, parents have the added concern of the anticipated loss of a classroom and teacher in the next academic year because of a temporary fall in the school roll.

Dumfries and Galloway constituency MP Alister Jack has added his support and written to residents in Dunscore and surrounding area urging them to make their views known to the education authority.

Mr Jack said: "Our children's education is vital and I have every sympathy with the parents' concerns.

"In the case of Dunscore, the removal of a classroom and teacher will have a significant impact and it is particularly galling the school roll fall which triggered the decision is expected to be reversed the following year."

The MP has met with Craig Bennison, chairman of Dunscore Primary Parent Council, who is also helping co-ordinate the joint-campaign with the two sister schools.

Mr Bennison warned that the changes flew in the face of the Scottish Government's 'Getting it right for every child' (GIRFEC) and Curriculum for Excellence (CFE) strategies.

He said: "These cuts are placing some children in a disadvantaged position, notwithstanding the quality of teaching that is displayed across our schools.

"Teaching staff are increasingly subject to more demands being placed upon them yet with no or little support from the local authority, in terms of classroom support and learning management.

"I've written to Colin Grant, the director responsible for education, detailing our concerns."

He added that at Dunscore with the significant increase in pupils anticipated in 2019 / 2020, which would require a return to three classrooms and equivalent staffing, it seemed illogical to impose disruptive cuts in the next session.