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Last Updated: Monday, 21 January 2008, 00:05 GMT
Tories urge rural schools action
Primary school pupils
The SNP manifesto pledged action to save rural schools
The Conservatives are attempting to push the Scottish Government on action to reduce rural school closures.

Scottish Tory deputy leader Murdo Fraser wants a presumption against shutting rural schools, a policy which was an SNP manifesto pledge.

A member's bill brought by Mr Fraser would see plans to close schools being referred from councils to ministers.

The government said it was on track to hold a consultation on its plans for rural schools in the spring.

Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop will hold talks with Mr Fraser as part of the process, as well as meetings with other relevant groups.

We know that if communities lose their school, that's another nail in the coffin
Murdo Fraser
Scottish Tory deputy leader

Following high-profile school closure cases in Moray and the Scottish Borders, Mr Fraser said he would welcome government backing for the proposals, whether ministers supported his bill or brought forward their own legislation.

The Mid Scotland and Fife MSP said small, rural schools had been under pressure from local authorities seeking to close them, often for financial reasons.

"These are communities that have perhaps lost, in recent years, their filling station, their local shop, they're perhaps losing their post office," he said.

"We know that if communities lose their school, that's another nail in the coffin.

"This is about sustaining our rural communities as much as it is about maintaining high levels of education."

Mr Fraser's proposals, which would also bring in central funding to save threatened schools, have been backed by a campaign group, the Rural Schools Network, and the Moray Forum, which represents parents in the north of Scotland.

SEE ALSO
School closure legal move studied
29 Jun 07 |  South of Scotland
Sharp increase in home education
13 Nov 06 |  Scotland
Council abandons school closures
10 Aug 05 |  Scotland
Four-pupil school closure blocked
28 Jun 07 |  South of Scotland

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