Mums Ready to Fight for Cairn School
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Mums ready to fight for school by Jennifer Buchanan - Ayrshire Post.

HANDS OFF our school! So say mums, angry that their kids' school has been earmarked for closure. Cairn Primary mums say they'll do all they can to fight the plan by South Ayrshire Council. Mum-of-two Gemma Callow rallied the community together to march in protest against the proposed merger with Gardenrose Primary.  Gemma's son Kieran is in P4 at Cairn, and the concerned 25-year-old wants her daughter Angel, 22 months, to attend the primary as well.

She explained: "The class sizes will rocket if the two schools are joined and the kids education will suffer. "And what about the health and safety side of it? There are only one set of girls' toilets and one boys' set at Gardenrose. "If their school is about to double in size how is that suitable?"

Cairn is the largest of three primaries proposed for closure in a move that council officers believe could save 250,000. The potential merger with Gardenrose is now in a period of public consultation with a meeting date set between the council and Cairn Parent Council for October 27. But with many worried that they will not be listen to, Cairn mums are taking things into their own hands and making their views crystal clear.

Kimberly Thorburn's daughter is in P1 at Cairn and she is very worried. She said: "Madison has just got settled. She knows her teachers, the dinner ladies and the layout of the school. All these kids are going to be uprooted and flung into giant classes, that can't have a good effect on them. "And if there's no room in the Gardenrose classrooms where are they going to go? I don't want my daughter learning in a wooden hut." Kimberly is also concerned about the financial strains that will be put on the parents, saying: "We just bought full uniforms for all our kids, are we going to be expected to buy more?"

And it's not just Cairn mums that are worried. Tammy MacPherson's children attend Gardenrose, and she is equally as concerned. She said: "My daughter Kiera is in P3 and there are already 30 children in her class, there's just no room."

And the uncertainty doesn't stop there. Tammy pointed out that parking at Gardenrose is stretched as it is. And if the parents decide to walk their kids to school instead, many are concerned about the children having to cross the busy A77 every day.

Val Jess with daughter

Members of the community are also worried about what will happen to the staff and the building. Many are confused why Cairn has been flagged for closure when the primary just had its interior refurbished last year as part of a 9.5 million investment by the council to upgrade its buildings.

MSP Cathy Jamieson has given her backing to the mums. She said: "With other small rural schools (St Ann's and Pinwherry) also earmarked for review, it is perhaps worth recalling that the previously stated position of the council's education spokesperson was in support of rural schools. "That was voiced at a public meeting I attended when the future of Crossroads Primary was being debated."

But the Cairn mums will certainly not be going down without a fight. Gemma is determined to make the council listen to them. She said: "We won't be stopping here. We will be getting petitions out for the community to sign and we are going to keep protesting until we are heard. "This is our kids we are talking about. What's more important than that?

Comments by Jim McAlpine, a long ago pupil at Cairn Primary and regular contributor to  Jim is now living in Ontario, Canada. See also Do you remember this Tune? A snapshot of life on Kirkland Street, Maybole from mid to late 1930s through the experience and eyes of a then young lad and Sunset over Arran and Memories of Straition and more

I cannot envision the closing of such an institution, yes institution, because in the eyes and lives of many residents of Maybole, past and present, that is what it has become over the last 120 years. Economics or not and don't we hear a lot about economics nowadays? This school is an important, integral part of the town it has served for many generations, and I hasten to add, with much distinction.

Cairn Primary, in my time, under the very capable leadership of Mr. Alex. B. Coburn and teachers such as Miss Ritchie, Miss McCall, Miss McCullough, Miss Dennison and many others shaped the future lives of all their pupils, and let us not forget, primary school is the beginning of a long journey into the future.

If the reason to close Cairn and other primaries is to save a few hundred thousand pounds in the short term then I suggest that those making the decisions look a little further down the road and look at the consequences their decisions foist upon the the affected communities. A school is not a structure of bricks and mortar, it is a living organ of learning.

These are the observations of an 80 year old ex pupil of Cairn Primary who attended the school through the depths of the great depression of the thirties and through the dark years of the second world war. I loved my time at Cairn Primary as I'm sure did many of my contemporaries.

 See also earlier article - Cairn Primary School Set to Close?