The importance of schools in rural communities

I'm fairly sure some people at Skellefteå kommun don't like it when I call them, because I never call them to say thank you or well done or please sir, I want some more.

And this morning is no different. I've spoken with Anders Bergström who heads up the schools at Skellefteå kommun because he's coming to Bygdsiljum on Monday to talk about the school and in fairness to myself, he isn't coming to say thank you or well done, he's coming to warn about closure even if that will be masked by something else.

After speaking with him however, I know he isn't coming to tell us it is getting closed or years are moving, but he is coming here to tell us he is concerned and that it's based all around the numbers of pupils and the cost. He never actually mentioned cost, but we all know that it's a factor.

And he will be open and transparent (his words). But at the exact same time, he'll be open and transparent with a set of numbers and needs and a process that has been pre-determined, prior to consultation, as a base level for keeping the school in Bygdsiljum open.

I'd just really like it if they factored in:

1. Children that start with smaller class sizes go on to do better at higher eduction. And that's a fact. This isn't a suggestion that children stay at school in Bygdsiljum until they are 18 years old, only that instead of taking years away, maybe it would be more beneficial to give a year or two back.

2. Population decline in rural areas can be directly attributed to rural school closures. This is a long term view and if they close the school this year, nobody is saying that people are going to move this year, but when people move away there is less chance they will come back with their new family or that new families will come. And this is reported in so many papers.

3. That in the UK, under Labour, there was a large number  of school closures, based on crunching numbers and trying to make 'education more efficient' instead of focusing on the children and the long term. Today, more and more free schools are opening in the UK and it's actually costing them more money. 93 new free schools opening this month alone.

4. That a sense of community, stems from a community school and I don't think I need to drop a link to demonstrate the importance of a local school on a local community.

And you know what, while I could link to loads of articles that suggest it's a bad idea to close the local school, I also know that Skellefteå kommun could find just as many links to suggest that it's actually okay to close local schools and children sitting on a bus for an hour each day has no long term impact on their eduction.

But my point is, I don't think it's about eduction or a sense of community, but something else that nobody wants to say out loud. And to further that point, if both parties can find reasons for closing or not closing (reducing the years is just a step towards closure and shouldn't be accepted), then surely if it's just a case of will their education be better if they can walk to school and spend more time with a teacher, the logical and reasonable answer has to be yes, if only because all the research points to that and surely that should be what this is about.

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