What is the future for Luing School?

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The future of Luing’s mothballed school is up for discussion.

Argyll and Bute Council is hosting a drop-in session on  the island next Thursday – one month before education officers are due to present an official options appraisal to community services bosses.

The council says the session on May 26 is only a pre-consultation event but Luing has called its own earlier meeting  to rally responses and gather community-wide feeling in readiness.

The Scottish Government has strict procedures that must be followed before any school can be closed. When the next community services committee hears the pre-consultation results, its members will then have to decide whether to continue mothballing the school or whether to start the strategy process of formally consulting on future options, including permanent closure, although there is no limit to how long a school can be mothballed.

Luing’s school has been threatened with closure in the past but was saved by an island campaign that included taking a boat of protestors to the council’s HQ at Kilmory.

Now the school could potentially be facing closure again. When the school had no pupils in 2020, the council decided to temporarily mothball it and tasked education officers with gathering information, identifying all reasonable options and assessing those options on  its future. Officers were asked to bring back findings to the June 2022 meeting of the community services committee.

At a 2020 council meeting the community services committee was told community consultations were continuing as strongly as possible.

The Oban Times understands an education officer met with current parents of Luing school-age children earlier this month when news of the May 26 general drop-in session at the Atlantic Islands Centre, starting at 10am, was also announced. Originally the session was due to end at 5pm but has now been extended to 7pm.

A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Council said: ‘This is a pre-consultation under the terms of the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010. An option appraisals report will be collated following this.’

Luing Community Council (CC) convener Mike Barlow said, as far as he was aware, there has been no direct consultation over the school’s future with CC members.

The date of the next community services committee meeting is not listed on Argyll and Bute Council’s calendar yet.