Changes to the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010 that strengthen the protection for rural schools threatened with closure, come into effect today (Friday 1 August).
Introduced through the Children and Young People Act in February, the changes will require local authorities to carry out more rigorous consultations on all school closures, but in particular on rural schools. The new requirements are a result of the Report from the Commission on the Delivery of Rural Education which recommended the Scottish Government should clarify the presumption against closure for rural schools and school consultations must reach higher standards. It will also mean that new evidence must be provided before proposing a rural school for closure, and that all consultations must include accurate and clear information, including costs, in the proposals to close a school. Under the new regulations, communities will also have a right to challenge any inaccuracies in council proposals and if a school closure is rejected, it will be protected from closure for five years.
New guidance for local authorities on school closure proposals has been published by the Scottish Government and can be found here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2014/08/2301