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Gregory's Girl school given 12-month reprieve

The school made famous by Scottish film classic Gregory’s Girl has secured a year’s reprieve from the bulldozer.

Dee Hepburn and Jake D'Arcy
Dee Hepburn and Jake D'Arcy

Abronhill High School in Lanarkshire had been earmarked for demolition at the end of the current school year, with staff and almost 500 pupils transferring to Cumbernauld High a couple of miles away.

The local authority had claimed the school, built in the late 1970s, had become "outdated and no longer appropriate for the modern curriculum" with its closure saving the cash-strapped council £1 million-a-year.

Longer term plans involve rehoming all pupils from both schools in a single new £30m building on the site of Cumbernauld High.

But, in the aftermath of a major consultation, sparking 1600 objections to the plans and described by North Lanarkshire Council as “considerable and unprecedented”, the council will recommend next week that instead of shutting in June of this year, the school will remain open until the summer of 2014.

However, parents have still expressed their anger at the move, citing overcrowding and travel to the new school as longer-term problems.

Campaigner Susan Hamilton, of Save Abronhill High School, said: “We want the school kept open for the community in this part of Cumbernauld. Keeping it open for another year doesn’t address issues which come up after that.

“We’re looking at an over-capacity, under-achieving school, travel a couple of miles through forest, or paying around £250 for bus travel.

“We’re still not happy and will be asking the Scottish Government to call in the consultation, make sure it’s been done properly and if not for the council to start again.”

In the paper going before North Lanarkshire’s learning and leisure committee next week, the council raises several advantages and disadvantages to the additional year.

It states that the plus points include allowing more time to plan the amalgamation of the two schools, creating a better opportunity for planning the transition of P6 and P7 to the new school, and giving more time to both establishments to reconcile their curriculum, as well as not requiring additional staffing.

On the down side it claims that “protracted implementation may lead to potential loss of staff and pupils with an associated impact on the whole school community and on continuity of learning” and delaying the delivery of financial savings.

The report’s recommendations add: “To approve that, at the end of school session 2013/14, the provision of education at Abronhill High School and Cumbernauld High School be discontinued and a new school be established and that all pupils currently attending both the current Abronhill and Cumbernauld High Schools will be provided with education at the existing Cumbernauld High School premises.”

The school in Cumbernauld had been open for only two years when it became the backdrop to Bill Forsyth’s 1981 teen romantic comedy starring John Gordon Sinclair, Dee Hepburn and Clare Grogan.

It tells the story of schoolboy Gregory (Sinclair) who falls in love with Dorothy (Hepburn), a girl in the school football team. A 1999 sequel, Gregory’s Two Girls, featured Sinclair as a teacher returning to his old school at Abronhill.

Amongst those backing the retention of the school are Taggart actor Colin McCredie, whose wife used to teach at the school, and his co-star Alex Norton, who played a teacher in the film.

The responses to the public consultation even included the proposal to promote the school as a Gregory’s Girl tourist scheme.

A North Lanarkshire spokesman said: “We have carried out a full consultation on the initial proposals to merge Abronhill High School and Cumbernauld High School with parents, pupils, the community and Education Scotland. Based on that consultation, learning and leisure services have made recommendations which will be considered by the council at a meeting on February 6.”

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