Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pupils take fight against school closures onto internet

Above Drummond High School Pupils lead the campaign

Efforts to prevent the closure of 22 Edinburgh schools and nurseries are being stepped up this evening, with schoolchildren themselves leading the fight in cyberspace.

Pupils from across the capital have joined together to try and save the nurseries, primaries and secondaries at risk but the council insists it cannot keep half empty schools open.

Young people are often accused of being apathetic and disinterested in current affairs, but that's certainly not the case for these pupils from Drummond High School in central Edinburgh. Since it was announced on Friday that theirs was amongst 22 schools set for closure by the city they've been busy setting up an online campaign on social networking sites like Facebook and Bebo, and have already attracted hundreds of supporters.

One pupil, Chris Rutherford, commented: "It is important to make sure that everyone is linked up to fight as one unit as that'll show the council know we won't roll over and take what they're saying and make sure they know we're here to fight and here to reject their proposals".

Another, Ailsa Donaldson, stated: "I think it's definitely worked, setting up the site. That we've already had so much support through that that it's clear that we're right in thinking that people are so opposed to this and that people want to do something about it".

Sarah Higgins commented: "We're united on this and we're gonna fight all the closures and we're not going to take what they want to do to our services".

The council has now embarked on a series of staggered month long consultations for each affected school, but faced with a £14 million budget deficit and they say, many half-empty schools, councillors insist they have little option but to implement these cuts.

Councillor Marilyn MacLaren, the Education Convenor for Edinburgh Council said: "As a new administration we have to take a long hard look at all the property that we own and that we use to make sure that we're making the best use of it because at the moment we have half-empty schools, deteriorating school buildings, falling school roll and a declining amount of money coming from the Scottish executive. We cannot go on like this".

But campaigners say schools like Drummond are at 85%, above the council's target for occupancy levels, and that at least two primaries - Stockbridge and Abbeyhill are virtually full, which they insist makes a mockery of the council's argument.

Malcolm Chisholm, MSP for Edinburgh North and Leith, commented: "It's full of flaws. It's full of holes. It's not taking into account the size of the increasing population in Edinburgh as a whole and certainly particularly in my constituency. And I just think there are 100 arguments that can be used against the proposals and I hope at the end of the day the councillors will listen to that".

A full council meeting will take place here at the City Chambers on Thursday with one of the topics up for discussion being the school closures. With thousands of teachers, pupils and parents also expected here to demonstrate, councillors will be left in no doubt as to the strength of feeling that their proposals have generated.

Watch video report

Source: STV News

Also See: Students Against Closures on BeBo

United front in battle to save schools

'We'll do whatever it takes to keep the school open'

Battle begins in bid to save city's schools

We all feel disgusted by move to axe schools

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