A Fife primary school is to shut permanently because of falling pupil numbers.
At an online meeting of the education and children’s services committee, councillors agreed with recommendations to shut Gateside Primary School for good at the end of the year.
Under the recommendations, the catchment area of Strathmiglo Primary School will be rezoned to incorporate all of the current catchment area for Gateside Primary School.
The decision comes after councillors opted to mothball the building in March 2019.
The initial proposal was to close the school on July 3 but due to the pandemic the committee was unable to meet to approve the recommendations.
Following the delay, the school will now be shut on December 18.
Declining school roll
Gateside Primary has capacity for 47 pupils but no children were enrolled for sessions 2018/19 and 2019/20, nor have any attempts been made by parents to reopen the school for academic sessions 2019/20 or 2020/21.
Speaking at the committee meeting, head of education and children’s services at Fife council Shelagh McLean asked members to approved the proposal as it was of “educational benefit”.
She said: “The proposal was drafted as a result of the school having no pupils in August 2018 and 2019. There are also no pupils in August 2020.
“There is one key overarching area for members to consider and that is educational benefit.
“The service assessment is that the likely effect of the proposal is that the pupils of the affected school will accrue educational benefit through improved sustainability of the school estate and best value approaches.
“Education Scotland stated that in their opinion this proposal should achieve the council’s aim of providing an improved range of education and circular opportunities for the pupils in the Gateside village.
“However, officers continue to recognise the significant challenges that any proposal for the closing of a school and the rezoning of a catchment area presents for pupils, parents and the community and we don’t take that responsibility lightly.”
The proposal was drafted as a result of the school having no pupils in August 2018 and 2019. There are also no pupils in August 2020. ”
Shelagh McLean , head of education and children’s services at Fife council
A decision is still to be made on any alternative uses for the Gateside Primary School site but in the report presented to the committee it was outlined that Fife Council is keen to ensure that it would be considered for “specialist education provision.”
In response to this point, Ms McLean said that any decision on this would be made after the school’s closure.
She added: “One of the suggestions that came through the community was that the building could be used as a site for supporting children with additional support needs.
“A lot of that work is undertaken if and when a decision is taken around a school building because we don’t want that to be an influencing factor on the decision.
“We will seek to determine if there is an alternative use for the building.”