Kilsyth Academy headteacher’s concerns over future secondary options for pupils at two East Dunbartonshire primary schools

A public meeting was held in Kilsyth Academy to discuss a consultation on catchment 
areas currently being 
conducted by East Dunbartonshire Council.

Kirkintilloch High School 22.4.11 Picture by Jamie Forbes

The meeting was led by three North Lanarkshire Council staff – education officer David Craig, head of education (North) Janie O’Neill and Gregg Orrock, the head teacher at Kilsyth Academy.

The public consultation would allow parents of pupils at Lennoxtown Primary and Craighead Primary in Milton of Campsie gain an additional option of sending their children to Lenzie Academy or Kirkintilloch High respectively, beginning with the next school year starting in August 2020.

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A long-standing arrangement between East Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire Councils means Kilsyth Academy is currently the only non-denominational secondary school available for pupils moving on from these two primaries.

In attendance were around 20 local parents along with Kilsyth councillors Jean Jones and Heather Brannan-McVey.

Ms O’Neill commented that the situation was “strange” as North Lanarkshire was not a full participant in the consultation, while also underlining the council’s continued support for the Academy.

Mr Orrick said that the change had potential to reduce the school roll in Kilsyth Academy to around 300, which would make it the smallest secondary school in North Lanarkshire. This would have a proportionate impact on the resources available to the school.

Councillors Brannan-McVey and Jones both complained that East Dunbartonshire had not engaged with North Lanarkshire before launching the consultation. 

Both pledged to approach Councillor Gary Pews, the depute provost of East Dunbartonshire, with their concerns.

But Lib Dem Councillor Gary Pews, whose Bishopbriggs North and Campsie ward takes in Lennoxtown and Milton of Campsie, says that is simply not the case.

He said: ‘’I suppose the Kilsyth councillors are standing up for their constituents, so they won’t be surprised that I am doing the same for mine.

‘’I regularly attend the meetings of the parent councils and the community councils in Milton of Camspie and Lennoxtown, and one of the first things I was asked after being elected in 2017 was if I could exert some pressure to have the Kilsyth arrangement reviewed.

‘’Parents who pay their council tax to East Dunbartonshire simply wanted to have the option of sending their children to a zoned non-denominational secondary school in East Dunbartonshire.

‘’This is not a slight on Kilsyth Academy, which it must be stressed will remain an option for parents who still wish to send their children there. But the fact is that parents have been voting with their children’s feet on this issue, and have been increasingly choosing the only free travel option currently available in East Dunbartonshire, St. Ninian’s High in Kirkintilloch.

‘’The proposals to extend that choice have been warmly welcomed in Milton of Campsie and Lennoxtown, and I am glad to have played a part, with total cross-party support on the council, in driving them forward.’’

Since the meeting, Councillor Jones has written to four councillors and the education convener and vice-convener at East Dunbartonshire inviting them to meet her and Councillor Brannan-McVey. No response has so far been received.