I remember my primary school well and with much fondness, I also remember the shock when I went back to see it a couple of years back and it was no more. The classrooms, the boiler room, the gym hall, the music rooms, the bike sheds, the dinning hall, no longer echoed to the sound of the school bell and the chatter of young children. The trees and dirt were we played marbles were silent and probably for the first time since the school’s opening had grass growing on it.
The children attended a total of four primary schools due to my wanderings from one place to another. I could not and would not find fault in any of the schools they attended, however I would say that each of them had their own strengthens things that made them a good school for my children to attend and I will always be grateful for the way they encouraged, nurtured and taught my children.
One of said schools faced closure it was a worrying and disruptive time for my son who was in P1 and would not see his years out in the school he was starting in (at that time I didn’t know that he would be moving schools on several occasions any way). The parents were understandably anxious, the school was small and we all parents, children and staff felt very vulnerable. Now don’t get me wrong most of us could see the rational behind it, we understood that with such small numbers and the cost of the upkeep on a Victorian building it made financial sense, but it didn’t make any other kind of sense. The school didn’t close, and why didn’t it close well in no small part it was down to the community at large rallying round the school, expressing the value and importance the schools presence in the community had to the community at large. Some 20+ years later that school is full due to population shift, the area is still vibrant and has retained all its other amenities too. Had the school closed we probably would have moved as I wouldn’t have wanted to be over 2 miles away from the school without my own transport I can not say how many others would have similarly moved out, nor can I do any more than speculate how many would not have moved into the area. We certainly wouldn’t have had the school already been closed.
Why do I go wandering down this particular memory lane you may wonder, well in both the Bearsden and Milngavie areas there are currently proposals to close at least 5 and possibly 7 of the primary schools and merge them with other schools. In the case of the Roman Catholic schools losing the one in Milngavie altogether, with children having to travel to Bearsden. (Would you as a RC hoping to raise a family move into a town which didn’t have a primary school for you?)
The consultation process has been poor at best and there are quiet strong feelings around. Naturally each parent wants to protect their child’s school. Naturally they believe they have chosen the best school for their child and don’t want that being mucked about with. However, it is more than schooling that will be effected if these changes go through and I don’t believe enough time has been given for the reality of the situation to truly sink in. The changes these proposals make will permanently change both areas, while some have been pitching this as a school against school battle and engaged in some very uncalled for name calling that has distracted some from the main issue – Bearsden Cross will irrevocably change as will Milngavie precinct the community at large will under go considerable waves of re-assessing and consolidating. What will come out of the other end no one can predict, but to pretend that everything else will all stay the same is sheer folly in the extreme.