Remote school with just five pupils to be mothballed in January

When the school returned in August 2022, the number of pupils had dropped to five.

Remote Moray school Crossroads Primary with just five pupils to be mothballed in January Moray Council

A remote Moray school is set to be mothballed after the number of pupils attending dropped to just five.

Pupils currently at Crossroads Primary School in Keith will be temporarily re-zoned to one or more adjacent school catchments after the school is mothballed from January 9, 2023.

An assessment of the school’s current situation was triggered in May when the school roll fell to ten. 

The figure further fell to five following the summer break in August of this year.

Members of Moray Council’s Education, Children’s and Leisure Services Committee agreed on September 28 to mothball the primary school, but notification of this decision was withheld until after the Buckie by-election, due to pre-election period protocols.

The term mothballing refers to the temporary closure of a school where the school roll has fallen to very low pupil numbers, and in some cases zero. 

Mothballing allows for a school to reopen should circumstances change, meaning that if appropriate numbers of primary-aged pupils moved into the area in the future, the school would re-open.

The decision to mothball Crossroads Primary School will be reviewed in April 2023 and an update will be provided to the Education, Children’s and Leisure Service Committee. 

To undertake formal closure of a school, local authorities are required to carry out a statutory public consultation.

Chair of the Education, Children’s and Leisure Services Committee, councillor Kathleen Robertson, said: “Any decisions taken around the future of a school are to support the best educational and social outcomes for the children and young people currently attending the school, as well as those who may attend in the future.

“We monitor our school rolls regularly and at particular points, for example, enrolment periods; when the roll has a downward trend; and when the roll is increasing and this impacts on staffing levels.”

Councillors also agreed on the process for the future mothballing of primary schools. Should the school roll fall to less than 15 pupils, an operational assessment of the current situation will be triggered.

This will include an assessment of the impact on the community, local schools, current users of the building and the school roll forecast, as well as formal consultation meetings with parents or carers. 

Following this initial assessment, the head of education will be responsible for making a decision to commence the mothballing process if appropriate. 

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