Plans to shift a central Fife nursery have been defended against an allegation that parents are being denied a fair say on their children’s education.
Fife Council proposes to close the Anderson Drive building which currently houses Leslie Nursery and move pre-school children into the village primary school.
Local councillor Fiona Grant claims there is anger that people have been given only six months to influence the decision, while there will be lengthy consultation when the local authority announces any primary or secondary schools earmarked for closure under its estate review.
But the council insists the move will benefit everyone involved and says there is no statutory requirement to consult the public.
SNP councillor for Glenrothes North, Leslie and Markinch Mrs Grant said consultation had only just begun on the removal of the stand-alone nursery, yet the plan is due to be implemented in June.
Contrasting the timescale with that of the estate review, she said: “Folk in Leslie are angry.
“They are being asked to consider changes to how local education is provided but they are getting less than a third of the time to do it.
“It is plain daft and grossly insensitive to claim that because within Fife Council the two issues are separate projects this justifies the different timescales.
“Fife Council has the power to give Leslie the same consultation and I urge council leader Alex Rowley to do the right thing as soon as possible.”
The council’s executive spokesperson for education, Councillor Bryan Poole, said it would be impossible to progress the larger school estate review in the same time it takes to deal with a single nursery school.
He criticised what he said was an attempt to put a negative slant on a good news story.
He said: “This is good for children, good for the parents and good for the nursery staff.
“The fact the nursery will be part of the school means it’s not such a daunting prospect for the children when they go up to primary school.
“Parents who have children at nursery and primary school won’t have to travel to two locations.
“The nursery staff will be part of a bigger complement of staff with more support.
“We have the same head teacher for both the nursery and the primary school, so there are advantages to having the head on site to provide support.”
Mr Poole said the shift was being made to cut costs but he added: “We can’t just look at the school estate or a nursery building purely in terms of finance.
“There will be a budget saving but more important is the idea of bringing the nursery and the primary school under roof.
“I can’t for the life of me see how anyone can say that is disadvantageous to the children.”
The council’s directorate resources manager Shelagh McLean said it was important to stress that the nursery may be moving not closing.
She said: “The proposal is to integrate the nursery in Leslie within the primary school building, a move which has been designed to increase the educational benefits for the children concerned.
“The current arrangement of two buildings is already managed by one head teacher.
“Moving to one setting will bring the benefits associated with all children and staff under one roof.
“The move will also benefit parents with children attending both the nursery and the primary school as they will have one drop off point in the morning.
“The current engagement is not a statutory consultation, but we felt it important to gain the views of local parents so that they had a say in whether such a change takes place and how such a change might be managed.”