Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 15:15 GMT on Monday, 19th November 2012.
Cumbernauld campaigners attend ‘Walk to Win’ march in Abronhill, to show solidarity against council’s closure proposals

Picture is copyright of Save Abronhill High School Working Group.

ABRONHILL High School campaigners fighting to save the school from closure have staged another protest.


Following on from the campaign’s previously successful march, the Save Abronhill High School Working Group organised the ‘Walk to Win’ march on Saturday 17th November.


In late October, the first protest walk to be organised was attended by at least 200 people, and Saturday’s event was just as successful.


Paul Baird, 20, is one of the Working Group’s members and has been deeply involved in the campaign. He left Abronhill two years ago and is now studying law at Glasgow University.


Talking to STV Local Paul said: “There has been a momentum building with the campaign since the process kicked off.


“We have had a lot of positive feedback and people are starting to react to it.


“Given the success of the last walk, we wanted to strike while the iron is hot.


“The reasons we are being given for the closure seem to be that the building is not fit for purpose.


“But the exam results of the school are second to none. Abronhill is up with the best schools in North Lanarkshire. We punch above our weight.


“The school is at the heart of the community. It would be a shock if it goes.


“We get the feeling that the process is a facade. We get the feeling they [the council] have made their decision already, and they are doing the consultation because they have too.”


The protest march comes as North Lanarkshire Council plans to close the school in an effort to save £1.1m a year are out for consultation, with the deadline being  Tuesday.


It is proposed Abronhill pupils will move two miles down the road and join those at Cumbernauld High ahead of a new school being built in the years to come.


Lynn Hutcheson has two pupils at the school, a son in first year and a daughter in third year. Talking to STV Local she said: “On Saturday we meet up and were joined by politicians and celebrity guests.”


“It was good for the community to get together, and have a chance for the people to speak to the politicians and show them the route our children may have to walk.


“Recommendations that are first proposed are usually then passed. But I am still hopeful the school will be saved.”


Attending the event was actor Tam Dean Burn - who has appeared in Taggart, Steven Spielberg’s War Horse and Forsyth’s Local Hero whilst celebrities such as Frankie Boyle, Tam Cowan and Colin McCredie continue to show their support through Twitter.


Mr Burn is from Leith, Edinburgh and now stays in Glasgow. His connection to Abronhill comes from his friend, Cumbernauld South SNP Councillor, Paddy Hogg.


Talking to STV Local, Tam said: “Paddy told me about it and I thought I would come along and show my support.


“It seems the campaigners have been fighting very hard, and are being asked to go to a school which is not as good as the school they are already in.


“Kids don’t want to go to school, so the fact they are campaigning to keep it open here with their parents shows how much it means to them.


“The school’s role in Gregory’s Girl is also very important to me. It should be preserved because of this.”


Politicians, including SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn and Labour MP Gregg McClymont, also attended the march.


Mr Hepburn said: “The people who have organised Saturday’s walk should be congratulated.


“The consultation closes very soon and my office is preparing a submission which will say Abronhill and Cumbernauld High School should be retained as separate schools.”


Mr McClymont added: “I had been asked to join the walk by a number of parents and I was pleased to do so.


“I attended to see for myself the route that pupils might have to walk if the schools are merged as I know that this is a hugely important issue for parents and pupils alike.”


A spokesman from North Lanarkshire Council said: “No decision has been taken on the future of these schools, however, a thorough consultation on proposals to rationalise both high schools is currently under way and we are encouraging everyone with an interest to make their opinions known to us.


“The plans would pave the way for a brand new school to be built in the town, creating new and enhanced educational opportunities for pupils at Abronhill and Cumbernauld High Schools.


“The current schools are not cost effective and are under-used. The rationalisation would bring annual net savings of around £1.1m which would be either reinvested or help minimise the impact of cuts to other educational services.


“It will also provide an opportunity for a new build school to be adequately funded.”

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