Listening to the people?

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GLASGOW city council will plough ahead with plans to close a local school despite huge opposition.

After a consultation in which more than 97 per cent of respondees were against the proposal, the executive committee of GCC has agreed to the relocation of St Oswald’s secondary school in Cathcart to a new shared campus with in St Margaret Mary’s secondary in Castlemilk.

St Oswald’s is a school for special needs pupils. As part of the new arrangement, students will still be taught by their own specialist teachers but will also have access to facilities in the mainstream school building.

Councillor Stephen Curran, executive member for education and young people, said: “St Oswald’s pupils will now be able to access an extended range of secondary subjects and utilise the state of the art facilities at St Margaret Mary’s.”

GCC confirmed their officers will continue discussions with parents about transition arrangements for each pupil, to ensure the best possible educational outcome.

St Oswald’s pupils will stay in their current school until June 2014, but will have opportunities to start to get to know their new location before they move in August 2014.

During the council consultation 685 out of 699 responses were against the proposed closure.

Cathcart MSP James Dornan believes the move “will be a blow to the hundreds of people from across my constituency and beyond who objected to the closure”.

He added: “The council has a huge job on its hands if it is to instil confidence — in the parents, pupils and carers at both St Oswald’s and St Margaret Mary’s — that they are listening.”

Many parents who objected to the consultation believe their views have been ignored.

Fiona Hamilton’s 12-year-old son attends the school. She told The Extra: “We don’t have a voice. My son loves that school and it is being taken away from him. I am scared he will be bullied and struggle to adapt.”

William Dynes, whose grandson is in fourth year at the school, added: “It is an absolute disgrace. The decision was made before the consultation started. St Oswald’s is a great school; fit for purpose, with a great community spirit.

“This decision puts my grandson at an unfair disadvantage.”

Lord provost Sadie Docherty, a Linn ward Labour councillor, is “sympathetic to both sides”.

She told The Extra: “The council have worked hard to ensure the two schools will be separate within one campus.

“St Oswald’s is an old building — however, it’s not a building that makes the school, it’s the people.

“The atmosphere at St Oswald’s is first class and the majority of parents do not want their children to move.

“It is, in the new arrangement, difficult to keep the two schools separate, and there is, of course, a fear the children from St Oswald’s could be bullied, although of course it could become a great environment.”

An education Scotland report asked the the council to outline “how it will support the development of the ethos of both schools to ensure that all young people continue to feel safe and cared for wherever they are on the campus”.