Page last updated at 16:33 GMT, Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Council committed to new schools

Bayble pupils stage protest. (Pic: Norman Campbell)
There has been opposition to school closures on the isles

A council said it was committed to building schools while seeking advice on government opposition to earlier plans to close four S1/S2 units.

Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop threw out the proposals to close four junior secondary schools on the Western Isles earlier this month.

But Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said it believed its closure plans had not breached any regulations.

It has sought a meeting with Finance Secretary John Swinney on the issue.

The junior secondary schools will remain open.

Meanwhile, the comhairle said it was committed to building five new schools.

Ms Hyslop said the proposal to discontinue S1/S2 stages of education at Daliburgh and Paible were not "competent".

The interests of children's education has been at the forefront of everything we have done
Morag Munro
Education chairwoman

She also said there was inadequate consultation over plans to do the same at Lionel and Shawbost.

The comhairle had recommended discontinuation of the provision because of falling pupil numbers, tighter finance, the poor state of school buildings and an inability to deliver Curriculum For Excellence - a government effort to improve learning - in the S1/S2 setting.

The decisions on four of the units had to be referred to the Scottish Government because the schools earmarked to take the pupils were further than 10 miles from the children's homes.

Following a special meeting, the comhairle said it had full confidence in the consultation process and was satisfied that it complied with regulations and ministerial guidance.

Morag Munro, chairwoman of education and children's services, said: "The interests of children's education has been at the forefront of everything we have done. That will continue to be our priority."

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