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Learning estate public consultation at Forres Library well attended but Moray Council's survey on future of area's education open until end of November

By Garry McCartney

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The learning estate drop-in at Forres Library.
The learning estate drop-in at Forres Library.

MORAY Council’s public consultation on Forres’ school estate was well attended according to local authority officials.

Council representatives were on-hand at Forres Library to discuss the future of education in the Forres Associated School Group area.

A spokeswoman confirmed an overview of the learning estate strategy, data on the Forres ASG and future Forres Academy site options were displayed on information boards and discussed with attendees.

She said: “There was a high turnout from the community. Attendees' main concerns surrounded the future of schools in their communities. However, there are no options developed for the schools across Moray - including closures - at this point. Engagement is taking place to obtain feedback regarding a sustainable learning estate.”

Moray’s learning estate consists of eight secondary schools, 46 primary schools, 17 Additional Support Needs enhanced provisions within secondary and primary schools, 29 early learning and childcare centres co-located with primary schools, and six standalone early learning and childcare centres. Moray Council is considering their long-term sustainability. Where there are concerns, recommendations may include use of buildings for another purpose, re-zoning, mothballing, merger of schools or closure.

The local authority is committed to working with communities to establish priorities for investment.

Reviews of each ASG are taking account of all earning estate assessments and recommendations relating to each school.

The Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010, which establishes a process in respect of major changes, establishes a procedural presumption against the closure of rural schools.

However, temporary closure does not require consultation under the act. Following mothballing, a school may reopen due to an increase in pupil numbers, or a decision may be taken to move to statutory consultation on permanent closure. The delivery of learning estate investment plans will be dependent on the availability of capital funding from the Scottish Government.

Learning estate investment decisions will be considered alongside other Moray Council investment requirements.

The spokesperson said: “ The first phase of the review in Forres will continue, with the survey open until November 30. A reference group of key stakeholders in the community will be formed to look at the feedback and data from the engagement.”

Other ASG-focused events will take place across Moray over the next 18 months.

A sustainable learning estate survey is available at http://www.moray.gov.uk/moray_standard/page_150750.html. It has seven sections and takes around 12 minutes to complete.

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