What will happen to the school with no head teacher?

Kilchrenan Primary School was set to have just four pupils after the summer holidays.

Argyll and Bute school will close after no applicants for Kilchrenan teacher jobs Facebook

Kilchrenan sits on one of Argyll and Bute’s most remote roads.

The village’s schoolhouse is more than 140-years-old and was built to save pupils from a “ruinous” building in which 12 children were “huddled together in a corner up to their ankles in mud”.

But, after almost a century-and-a-half, Kilchrenan Primary is being mothballed.

The headteacher was due to retire in February and no applications were received to replace him. A classroom teacher post also attracted no applicants.

“I think we all know it can rip the heart out of a community like Kilchrenan when the school disappears”

Councillor Julie McKenzie

With only six pupils currently, the school’s roll was set to drop to just four after the summer holidays.

“I think we all know it can rip the heart out of a community like Kilchrenan when the school disappears,” said Councillor Julie McKenzie.

“I grew up here and went to one of these rural primary schools.”

Argyll and Bute Council’s head of education said parents decided that having so few others to learn alongside was not in the best interests of their children.

Kilchrenan Primary is being mothballed.

“We tried to attract a class teacher, with an intention to propose a shared headship, but we were unable to attract one,” Wendy Brownlie said.

But council officials promised they would do all they could to save the school after plans to close it were approved on Thursday.

“Maintaining schools, even the smallest ones, is a priority for education,” Ms Brownlie said.

The problem affects more than Kilchrenan and the other two villages the school serves – Inverinan and Dalavich.

“Rural depopulation is something that hits other parts of Argyll and Bute, and indeed other parts of Scotland, really hard”

Douglas Hendry, council executive director

“It’s a lot wider than just Kilchrenan,” council executive director Douglas Hendry told a meeting of the local authority’s community services committee.

“Rural depopulation is something that hits other parts of Argyll and Bute, and indeed other parts of Scotland, really hard.

“I want to confirm the reassurances that education will be engaging to do what we can, but this is something that requires to be addressed at a much wider level across the council and a wider level across the country.”

A number of small schools have closed in the area, sparking concern that young families won’t want to move into the communities.

Pupils attending Kilchrenan will be transported to Taynuilt Primary, including those from Dalavich.

Councillor Elaine Robertson said it was the journey that meant Kilchrenan Primary was kept open the last time closure was considered.

“Dalavich to Taynuilt is one of the most remote roads that we have, it’s more remote than some of the islands,” she said. “It’s subject to very bad weather quite regularly.”

Councillors were eager to explore ways to counteract the low numbers on the school roll by attracting young families to the area, including working with housing, education and on the wider economic plan for the area.

“This is happening in Kilchrenan, but it is happening in various areas across my ward,” Cllr McKenzie said.

“I’ve seen a number of our small schools in the area closing. It does really concern me. It really saddens me.

“I got a fantastic education in small rural school. The school was the backbone of the community. You got to know your teachers an awful lot better.

“Even now, I’m still in touch with people I went to primary with. We have a very strong connection, because of the identity of our rural primary school.”

The school, with its “generous” grounds of pathways and willow dens, will remain available to the community until March 2023 when its future will be reviewed again.

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