27 August 2021

Committee agrees to report to be presented outlining options on Longhaven School's future

Members of the Education and Children’s Services Committee agreed for a report to be produced by Aberdeenshire Council officers outlining the next steps for Longhaven School to be considered at a future meeting.

In April 2018, pupils were temporarily relocated from Longhaven School to neighbouring schools due to difficulties with appointing a head teacher. The school was temporarily mothballed in October 2018 by the Director of Education and Children’s Services, with annual extensions issued to date.

In August 2019, committee members approved an options appraisal to begin to assess the school’s future.  As part of this process engagement with the community is required, council officers planned to hold a minimum of two public engagement sessions, the first of these was held in October 2019, but the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic meant the second session was postponed due to restrictions on public gatherings.

An online survey was conducted as an alternative to meetings and a letter providing details was posted to every address within the Longhaven School catchment area. Alternative methods of contact were also suggested for residents wishing to comment but were uncomfortable about completing the survey.

The questionnaire asked a range of questions including whether or not the respondents wished to see the school reopen, if so whether they would enrol their children; what alternative uses they would like to see for the building if the school doesn’t reopen and how the council can encourage more families to enrol.

Parents who completed the survey were mostly not in favour of the school reopening citing concerns about the viability of a school with low pupil numbers. Other respondents did want to see the school reopen but many of them did not have children of primary school age who could attend.

Cllr Gillian Owen, Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee chair, said: “Clearly any decision about the future of a school is a difficult one for the committee to take. I am pleased to see the efforts officers made to ensure members of the community had their say on whether or not Longhaven School should reopen and how the school building should be used. This feedback from the community will now play an important part in the committee working with the council on the next steps for this school.”

Committee vice chair Cllr Rosemary Bruce added: “We don’t take the decision to mothball a school lightly. At the heart of an issue such as this is the educational wellbeing of the children. We have to ensure they receive the best education possible in a learning environment that suits their needs.”

Committee members today (Thursday, August 26) agreed to consider a further report at its meeting in December which will include the next steps for the school following recommendations provided by council officers as they present the findings of the options appraisal.

To read the report councillors considered today (Thursday, August 26) in full please visit Aberdeenshire Council - Committees and Meetings

To watch a webcast of the Education and Children’s Services Committee please visit Home - Aberdeenshire Council Webcasting (public-i.tv)