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Friday, August 17, 2007

School Closure: the Edinburgh Process

I've been working in Scotland all summer and have had little time to follow Seattle school issues or post on this blog. However, an article I read on the bus this morning prompted me to post. The cover of the newspaper says "Revealed: Hit-list of 22 capital schoools for axe: Anger as thousands of Edinburgh children left facing uncertain future"

What I found particularly interesting in the article, The great schools shutdown, were the similarities and differences with Seattle. The Edinburgh process is clearly different from the Seattle process: the closure list was apparently developed by the city council without any public input. Yet the reaction and the issues raised are similar: outraged parents, issues of class, budget issues, rising cost of housing and decreasing school-age population in the city, etc.

For example:
"Stockbridge Primary also faces the axe, despite being almost at capacity, because most of its pupils come from outside the immediate area. One highly placed education source last night accused the council of "social engineering". He added: "They want to close popular schools and move children into unpopular ones. If money is so tight and we have to look at changes, it should be the unpopular schools that close." The source claimed the list of 16 closure-threatened primary and high schools failed to "take nearly enough account of what parents want".

And:

He said: "Areas of multiple deprivation are the areas where schools should be safeguarded because they have a breadth of expertise in dealing with the social
problems there. "If you close the schools, you move the problems elsewhere, to schools without the expertise and the breadth of experience needed." But
he added: "At the end of the day, the council needs to trim the number of desks because they don't have the right number of bums to put on seats." A council spokeswoman last night refused to discuss the plans until parents had been told. But she added: "This is being done for educational purposes. "We have falling school rolls. We need to make more efficient use of buildings and provide the best education for children."

1 comment:

Melissa Westbrook said...

Oh Beth, it sounds familiar.

I think that there is no easy way to close schools and frankly, SPS got a lot more input than most districts in the U.S. ever give.

This Scottish example is odd because it almost looks like they are propping up undercapacity schools by closing schools near capacity.