Parents in the south of Scotland say they feel like they are being “punished” by their council after a successful campaign to save their local school.

Dumfries and Galloway Council had been planning to mothball Dalry Secondary School due to falling enrolment figures, but campaigners argued that the school, and their community, had been victims of a process of ‘managed decline’.

In March, councillors rejected officials’ proposals and instead adopted a motion demanding “an immediate cessation of secondary school mothballing”. At the time, parents said that they would be “pushing for alternative education models going forward” and said that they looked forward to engaging with the council about the future of the school.

However, pupils at Dalry Secondary School recently staged a one-day strike in protest at the new proposed timetable for the coming academic year. These arrangements, which families insist were issued without consultation, include grouping all S1, S2 and S3 pupils together and delivering classes in double, triple, and even quadruple periods.

Children participating in the strike were also angry that subject options that they say had been agreed in earlier meetings now appear to have been withdrawn. They are planning further actions if they are not “taken seriously” by the local authority.

The Herald: Pupils protesting outside Dalry Secondary School

Some parents have told The Herald that they believe the council is responding to its failed mothballing plans by attempting to make the school unattractive. This, they believe, is intended to push down the school roll even further in order to present the school as unviable, ultimately securing its closure.

They say that the council’s approach has been “disrespectful” to their community, and that they increasingly feel that officials are “in an office somewhere thinking that they’ll get us somehow".


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Dalry Secondary School pupils to strike over timetable

Councillor Dougie Campbell, whose motion to halt the mothballing proposals was adopted at the end of March, told The Herald that he is concerned by the council’s approach to engaging with the local community.

Cllr Campbell said: “Since my motion to suspend mothballing at Dalry Secondary was unanimously adopted by fellow Dumfries and Galloway councillors in March it’s self-evident to me, fellow ward councillors, and the Glenkens community that two specific work streams need to be acted on as matter of priority.

“Specifically, preparations for equitable access to subject choices and timetabling for pupils, during the period that mothballing will be suspended, that strives to match the education provided at secondary schools across the region, and engagement by the council’s education department with the Glenkens and District Trust steering group and Education Forum.

“It’s critically important that the council works in partnership with the Glenkens community, as required by the motion. I’ve raised my concerns with the chief executive regarding the delay in engagement and she has now also been made aware of growing concerns about timetabling.

“It was encouraging however that when I raised the current situation at a subsequent meeting of political group leaders these concerns were fully supported.

“It’s now been some seven weeks since the motion was adopted so I can fully understand the frustrations of pupils, parents and the wider community.

“There’s a great opportunity here for the council as a whole, in support of our desire to tackle rural depopulation, to be at the forefront of an innovative and alternative model for secondary education. It seems to work in other rural areas across rural Scotland so why not here?”

Dumfries and Galloway Council was approached for comment and referred The Herald to comments issued for earlier coverage.

The council stated that the new timetable is the best fit for the number of learners involved, and highlighted higher cost per pupil for Dalry Secondary School relative to other schools in the region.