11 October 2021

Committee informed of school mothballing criteria

Members of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee learnt about the process of mothballing a school.

According to Scottish Government guidelines, the term mothballing refers to the temporary closure of a school where the school roll has fallen to to very low pupil numbers, and in some cases zero. Mothballing allows for a school to reopen should circumstances change.

Councillors noted that the Director of Education and Children’s Services would consider mothballing a primary school when the school roll reached eight or fewer pupils. Thereafter, any decision taken to mothball would be subject to an assessment of the school roll forecast that demonstrates there will not be sufficient in zone pupils to increase the roll above eight over the next two years.

Cllr Gillian Owen, Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee chair, said: “The council operates under a presumption of keeping schools open, so any decision to begin the process of mothballing a school is never taken lightly. Ultimately, we must consider the educational wellbeing of every child and young person in Aberdeenshire and what school setting works best for them.”

Committee vice chair Cllr Rosemary Bruce added: “We are seeking to give parents, carers and our communities clarity about what our processes are when it comes to mothballing a school. These measures are carried out by other local authorities so will help create a consistent national approach.”

Since 2017, there have been 16 schools mothballed across Scotland. In Aberdeenshire, for session 2021/2022, there are currently four primary schools which have the status of mothballed. These are Easterfield, Fisherford, Gartly and Longhaven schools.

The report is available in full by visiting https://committees.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/committees.aspx?commid=494&meetid=19868

You can also watch a webcast of the Education and Children’s Services Committee by visiting https://aberdeenshire.public-i.tv/core/portal/home