Scottish ministers approve Abronhill High and Cumbernauld High merger

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The proposed merger of Abronhill High and Cumbernauld High is going ahead after Scottish Ministers gave consent to the plans.

North Lanarkshire Council approved plans to discontinue education at both schools and create a new school based within the current Cumbernauld High School building back in February.

As a priority in the next phase of the council’s Schools and Centres 21 programme, a new school will be built to replace the amalgamated schools on the existing Cumbernauld High School site.

Scottish Ministers “called-in” the council’s decision in March and following this review they have concluded that the local authority has fulfilled its legal obligations and that the proposals are reasonable.

Councillor Jim Logue, convener of learning and leisure services, said: “I welcome the Scottish Government’s decision and I am delighted that their review has found that our proposals will provide immediate educational benefits from merging the two schools.

“I have sympathy for parents and pupils involved who have expressed concerns about the impact of these changes.

“However, I would like to reassure them that we have considerable experience in successfully managing transitional arrangements. Time and time again our research has found that parents and pupils in similar circumstances report greatly enhanced educational and extra-curricular experiences in follow up reviews.”

The approval is subject to the council meeting the following conditions -

*Providing the Scottish Government and the Parent Councils of all of the schools affected by this proposal, confirmation that funding has been secured for the new school along with a detailed timetable for development and construction of the new school.

*Requesting Police Scotland to undertake a safety assessment of all the proposed walking routes to Cumbernauld High School and to make a report of its findings publicly available along with any recommendations. A copy of the report will be sent to North Lanarkshire Council and the Parent Councils of each of the schools affected by this proposal and the Scottish Ministers.

*Publishing, within three months of receipt of the Police report, and following discussion between the Police, council, parent councils and head teachers, its response to the report setting out how it intends to implement the recommendations made. This shall include details of what work requires to be done and when this will be carried out. A copy of the council’s response will be sent to the Police and copied to the Parent Councils of all of the schools affected and the Scottish Ministers.

*Completing all improvement works recommended by the Police recommendations before the first day of term of the new amalgamated school (for the start of academic year 2014/15). The council shall provide the parent councils and the Scottish Ministers with regular progress reports on delivering the improvement work required;

*Undertaking a full assessment of the safety and capacity of bus stances at Cumbernauld High School which are used by pupils for both boarding and alighting and make any necessary arrangements to ensure the stances are capable of accommodating safely the increased numbers of pupils likely to be using them following the merger of the two schools. These improvements are to be in place for the start of the new school year in 2014.

Councillor Logue added: “The schools are hugely under-occupied and, as an educational authority, we have already seen the benefits of merging under-occupied secondary and primary schools and providing pupils with wider educational opportunities.

“This is about providing better opportunities to our young people now and for generations to come.

“I must question why it has taken the Scottish Government so long to make their decision and why they waited until the day after the last day of term to publish their report.

“Nonetheless, from the start of the next school session, our staff will work with pupils and parents to develop the transitional arrangements and also plan for the development and construction of the new school which will provide state of the art learning facilities.”

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