§ Mr. Gordon Wilson
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has issued any guidelines to local authorities about mergers or use of primary and secondary schools following upon the lowering of the birth rate; and if he will make a statement of Government policy in relation to the anticipated problem which will arise.
§ Mr. Alexander Fletcher
A discussion paper reviewing the implications of the falling school population for school accommodation in Scotland was issued last year by the previous Administration. A suggestion in this paper that there should be a thorough examination by central and local government jointly of the complex problems involved was accepted by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, and a working party of officials of my Department and local authorities is at present drawing up proposals for a systematic review of the stock of schools in the first instance. I shall consult the convention on this subject when the working party reports.
Under the Education (Scotland) Acts, proposals by local authorities for the closure or merger of schools require my right hon. Friend's approval: they are considered on their merits and with full regard to the views of the parents and communities affected. In all other respects the use to be made of space released by falling numbers in schools is a matter for decision by the local authorities concerned.