PUPILS and parents fighting to stop the closure of Robslee primary received their biggest blow yet yesterday.
Scottish Ministers have now given the go-ahead for East Renfrewshire council to close the school and merge it with Giffnock, after “calling in” the decision earlier this year.
A spokesman told The Extra that “the decision was not taken lightly but ministers consider that East Renfrewshire council has fulfilled its obligations under the 2010 Act and have granted consent to the proposal subject to a number of conditions”.
There conditions state that a strategy must be in place for a phased transition, the government must be informed of educational benefits and the council has to set out a comprehensive travel plan.
ERC’s education convener, councillor Alan Lafferty said: “We can now move ahead and deliver the high quality education that local parents have come to expect from us.
“Parents, pupils and school staff can now come together to ensure the new Giffnock primary school continues to be a success”.
The decision has come under fire from campaigners and politicians alike.
Save Robslee campaign spokesman David McLellan said the parents and pupils are “down but not out”.
“Children, parents and the rest of the community who have been supporting Robslee, are disappointed and frustrated by the Government’s decision to allow ERC to go ahead with the phased closure from 2012 onwards.
“It will not deliver any educational benefits, and ERC have not been able to demonstrate any realistic savings”.
“However, Robslee is not yet closed, and we will examine all options open to us in the fight to keep Robslee open”.
Eastwood MSP Ken Macintosh has criticised the decision as being “inconsistent”.
He told The Extra: “The only criteria for closure is educational benefit and there is no educational benefit in closing a good school.
“The Scottish government have one rule for rural schools and another for urban schools which isn’t fair.
“Robslee is a popular and successful school which was reflected in the consultation process, however, that process only served to give parents false hope”.
West of Scotland MSP Stewart Maxwell believe ERC are closing “a good local school on very unconvincing grounds”.
The SNP defended the government against criticism by Mr Macintosh, by saying that it is “looking at ways to tighten and enhance current legislation”.
“It should be noted that the situation we are now in is vastly superior to when Labour were in power, when there were no measures whatsoever that could stop councils closing schools”.
Councillor for Giffnock and Thornliebank, Gordon Wallace, one of three Conservative councillors on the Education committee who all voted against the closure, believes the response did nothing other than “hide behind political jargon which simply gives a green light to crush a high-performing and well-supported primary school, seriously weakening Giffnock Primary in the process”.