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FIRST SCOTTISH SCHOOL OPTS OUT AFTER 5 YEARS OF REFORM

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A Highland RC school, Durnoch Academy, has become the first in Scotland to adopt self governing status - five years...
A Highland RC school, Durnoch Academy, has become the first in Scotland to adopt self governing status - five years after the introduction of the government's education reforms.

Scottish minister for education Lord James Douglas-Hamilton announced the move at an Edinburgh conference last week organised by his officials to boost awareness of the reforms. But plans to simultaneously announce the opt out of at least one primary school were scotched after a local bishop intervened.

Durnoch Academy, now given grant maintained status, had already expressed its wish to apply to the Scottish secretary for a change in status after its new board of management is put in place in April 1994.

At present it takes only two years of pupils but is keen to upgrade to six year status. It was the region's decision to reject upgrade proposals which prompted parents to ballot on GM status.

Val MacIver, Highland chair of education, said the council had decided against upgrading because of the proximity of other secondary schools.

Upgrading now would place a question mark over the government's policy of rationalising education provision.

'What incentive is there for the council to undertake such exercises if the government can intervene and overturn a local democratic decision'? she said.

Plans to give St Mary's Episcopalian primary school in Dunblane permission to opt out were put on hold after the local bishop, sole trustee of the school buildings, refused to hand over the lease to the incoming management board. The building is leased to and run by Central RC.

A Scottish Office spokeswoman said further information was being sought from the school board. 'Until that is resolved we won't be in a position to move forward', she said.

Lord James told last week's conference: 'Self governing status is in tune with Scottish values: self reliance, community involvement, and thrift'.He said officials had received 100 enquiries from schools so far and had turned down applications from two.

A decision on the future of Castlehill primary in Ayr is expected shortly.

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