Russell attacks “irresponsible” newspaper as he defends school decision

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Education Secretary Mike Russell has attacked what he described as “deeply irresponsible” the reporting by a Scottish newspaper who carried a headline “Nats pave way for cull on rural schools” in an article covering the Scottish government’s decision not to call in the closure of an East Ayrshire primary school.

Mr Russell launched the attack as he was responding to criticism of the decision on Radio Scotland on Wednesday afternoon.


Education Secretary Mike Russell has attacked what he described as “deeply irresponsible” the reporting by a Scottish newspaper who carried a headline “Nats pave way for cull on rural schools” in an article covering the Scottish government’s decision not to call in the closure of an East Ayrshire primary school.

Mr Russell launched the attack as he was responding to criticism of the decision on Radio Scotland on Wednesday afternoon.

Crossroads Primary School in East Ayrshire has been earmarked for closure by the council after serious structural defects were discovered.  The council decided that the costs of saving the school were too high and pupils will now attend another newly built primary school 2 miles away.

Parents wanted the Scottish government to call the decision in using new legislation introduced in March, however the council was deemed to have adhered to the procedures as laid down in the legislation and the decision was allowed to stand.

Opponents of the decision have claimed that the SNP have broken a manifesto pledge.  Sandy Longmuir a spokesman for Scottish Rural Schools Network said: “Instead of calling in the appeal of the closure and scrutinising it, the government have decided to do nothing. As far as they’re concerned the council has done nothing wrong.

“This contradicts the SNP manifesto pledge to introduce legislation with a presumption against rural school closures.”

However, colleague Justin Willey appeared to contradict this stance when he acknowledged that the manifesto pledge had indeed been honoured with the introduction of the legislation.

Here is Mr Willey being asked about the manifesto pledge on Radio Scotland:
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Des McNulty, education spokesman for the Scottish Labour Party described the SNP’s commitment to protect rural schools as “worthless” saying: “Once again pledges made by the SNP in its election manifesto have turned out to be worthless.”

However Mike Russell explained that the SNP had considered 9 proposals for closure and allowed only 2 to close whereas the last Labour led administration had approved all 45 closures that came to them.

There has been considerable media coverage of the attacks on the SNP and criticisms of the decision, so for those who have yet to hear Mr Russell’s response, here it is:
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