The School Closure Review Panel, a new statutory body, independent of Government, has refused consent to Aberdeenshire Council’s plans to close two dyslexia units, and has remitted the proposal back to the Council.

The Council had proposed to close Crimond Primary School Dyslexia Unit and Kellands Primary School Dyslexia Unit, and took the decision to proceed with these closures on 28 August.

On 20 October that decision was referred to the Convener of School Closure Review Panels by the Scottish Ministers. The Convener appointed a Panel on 21 October. The Panel consisted of Lesley Ward (Chair), Russell Ellerby and Forbes Mitchell.

The Panel reviewed the school closure decision by considering whether the Council had (i) failed significantly to comply with the requirements of the the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010 (“the Act”); and (ii) whether the Council had failed to take proper account of a material consideration relevant to the decision. In carrying out its review, the Panel considered all documentation available, including all representations sent from members of the public to the Scottish Ministers.

In the Decision, intimated to Aberdeenshire Council yesterday, Lesley Ward, the Review Panel Chair, stated:

“The panel have concluded that Aberdeenshire Council have failed in a significant regard to comply with the requirements imposed on it in terms of that Act in so far as they are relevant in relation to the proposal in terms of s17C(4)(a) of the Act. The School Closure Review Panel refuses consent to Aberdeenshire Council’s proposal in respect of the closure of Crimond School Dyslexia Unit and Kellands School Dyslexia Unit. The panel remit the proposal to Aberdeenshire Council in terms of s17C(1)(b) of the Act for a fresh decision as to implementation. The Panel specify the following steps that must be taken again by Aberdeenshire Council before a fresh decision can be made, in terms of s17C(3) of the Act:-

• In relation to Crimond School, the council must carry out the preliminary requirements set out in s12A of the Act. The council must then prepare a fresh educational benefits statement in terms of s3 of the Act and proceed with a fresh proposal paper in terms of s4 of the Act, ensuring that they comply with the additional consultation requirements of s13 of the Act.

• In relation to Kellands School the council must prepare a fresh educational benefits statement in terms of s3 and proceed with a fresh proposal paper in terms of s4 of the Act.

• The council shall have regard to the Statutory Guidance on the Schools Consultation (Scotland) Act 2003 from May 2015 in formulating its proposal.

• The council shall have regard to the terms of the Additional Support for Learning (Changes in School Education) (Scotland) Regulations 2005 in setting out the timescale for implementation of its proposal.”

The decision in full can be found at:
http://scrp.scot/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/SCRP-Decision-Aberdeenshire-Council-November-2015.pdf