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Village school 'could be saved'

28 June 07 15:58 GMT

A tiny village school could be saved from closure after the Scottish Executive vetoed Stirling Council's plan to axe it.

Lochearnhead Primary School in Perthshire had been due to close on the last day of term.

But it will now remain open after Stirling Council confirmed the executive had not supported its recommendation for closure.

The school opened in 1897 and currently has a role of just eight pupils.

A Stirling Council spokeswoman said the initial feedback from the Scottish Executive "made it very clear that the case for closure on education grounds had been well made."

She added: "However, they felt that the wider issues of the school closure had not been given due consideration. On that basis they have refused consent.

"Stirling Council will now reflect on the implications of this decision. Contingency plans had been made for the continued operation of the school in the event the school wasn't to close."

The announcement was met with delight in Lochearnhead, where locals had run a campaign to save the school.

Lochearnhead Community Councillor Vina Crighton said: "We held several meetings with parents of children at the school, who were angry and worried about the implications of closure.

"Parents and children alike appreciate the benefits of a school with small class sizes, where the children receive a good primary education and almost one-to-one attention from their teachers.

"The children faced travelling some distance to another school if Lochearnhead was closed. Now the families know their children will be able to attend their village school next term."

Richard Nicholson, who runs the Lochearnhead Post Office, said the school was part of the "lifeblood of the village," and that locals were overjoyed at the decision.

Mr Nicholson, 52, said: "People were up in arms that the school was to close. Staff didn't know if this would be their last week at work in the village.

"A small rural village like this depends on its school and other amenities just to keep it alive."

The decision to axe the school was taken by the Labour administration of Stirling Council in February.

It would have resulted in pupils from the village, which has a population of 250, having to be bussed more than five miles down the A84 to the next nearest school, Strathyre Primary, near Callander.

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