At a time when the Scottish Government is prioritising reducing the educational gap between children from deprived backgrounds, and their peers, Scots millionaire Jim McColl’s Newlands Junior College was a bold attempt to do something a bit different.

The private school in Glasgow, has taken 14-16 year olds who have become disengaged from education, and helped them get a foot on the employment ladder, by offering vocational skills and personal development.

It was set up in 2014 and since then many of its pupils have gone on to work, training, or further educational opportunities. But now the school appears set to close due to a lack of funding. This is highly regrettable.

Mr McColl has been calling for some time for government to step in and not only fund the experiment but pay for it to be rolled out more widely. But we should hesitate before attributing blame to the public sector.

The school has had considerable support from the public purse – with the Scottish government supplying more than £1m in grants and capital funding over a five year trial period.

Claims made for the school’s success are as yet unevidenced. The high per-pupil cost may well be justified,if young people can be diverted from benefits, poor health, and crime, for instance. But we do not know this and we do not know how it compares with other vocational projects for disaffected youth. The Scottish Government has not refused any additional funding, but made it contingent on an evaluation of the project.

At the outset it was said funding for the school would come from private investors. It is unclear why opprobrium should be heaped on Glasgow City Council, for instance, which has huge budgetary problems for not stepping in to fund a scheme it never asked for. Mr McColl, one of the UK’s richest men, should have the courage of his convictions and at least bankroll his project until its worth can be properly assessed.