The Campaign History
As part of a PPP initiative Midlothian Council announced on 26th February 2004 that they planned to close 5 rural primary
schools in June 2004 - Borthwick, Cousland, Cranston, Howgate and Temple primary schools. On 20th May 2004, Midlothian Council
decided the future of these 5 rural schools along with another 16 schools and nurseries.
In 12 weeks, the Midlothian Rural Schools Action Group (MRSAG) was formed and launched a high profile campaign to save the
rural schools from closing. Rural schools play a major role in our communities helping bring people together, attracting young
families to the areas and supporting local businesses and farms. This is in addition to the excellent education offered by
having smaller classes and a real caring environment where pupils of different ages learn to support each other. These facts
are proven in many reports and examples across the world. Closing any of these schools would have a major effect on our
Hundreds of people have tirelessly campaigned against these closures; from children, ex-pupils, parents, grandparents and members of the communities living in Midlothian to places as far away as America and Australia. The campaign has been covered worldwide on TV, radio and in the press - over 100 articles and letters have been published. Cross-party political support was achieved from our local MSPs - Conservatives, Labour, SNP and SSP. A petition of 5000 names was presented to the Scottish Parliament's Petitions Committee which we hope will lead to new guidelines for rural school closures. A march and rally was held in Dalkeith where 800 supporters showed the strength of feeling in our communities. Numerous meetings and public events were held, which created friendships across the length and breadth of Midlothian. We have the support of people from all walks of life, from ALL communities in Midlothian. This is not just an issue that affects rural areas.
At a full council meeting on 20th May, representatives from all 5 rural schools, plus MRSAG, gave presentations to request
that the schools stay open. Together, the presentations detailed the excellent educational attainments that the schools provide
and the devastating effects that closures would have on the communities. It was also shown that there were many inaccuracies in
the council's reports and that problems would be experienced with the whole PPP funding.
The Midlothian Labour Group announced the motion that was to be voted on which was then agreed by the council. The decisions
affecting the 5 rural schools were as follows :
- Borthwick and Temple : Will both be closed. Subject to securing appropriate funding, a new school will be provided at
Middleton for Borthwick and Temple catchment areas. Both schools will stay open until the new school is completed.
- Cousland and Cranston : Will both be closed. Pupils will remain at the schools until a new school at Pathhead is completed.
- Howgate : Will be closed. Pupils will move to Cuiken Primary for August 2004. Parents will be allowed to seek places for
their children at Cornbank St James.
- A further consultation period for Borthwick, Cousland, Howgate and Temple will be carried out since these are changes to
the original proposals.
Since that meeting, Howgate Primary School has closed. A new consultation period took place which included the changes proposed for Borthwick, Cousland, Cranston and Temple. A site has been chosen for Borthwick and Temple after discussions with local community groups took place to ensure the needs of the communities were addressed.
During 2005, Midlothian Council invited tenders for their PPP project and in September, announced that Skanska Quayle Munro were the preferred bidder. In January 2006, Midlothian Council announced that their planned timescales has slipped by 12-18 weeks and that the new North Middleton Primary School (for Borthwick and Temple) would be handed over during the summer holiday period in 2007 rather than the end of 2006.