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Shetland schools and education system


penfold
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Where do you want the new AHS?  

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  1. 1. Where do you want the new AHS?

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the council will never have the back bone, the will all back ther own school then eachother.

 

that they need to do is shut them one at a time then no-one will notice them gone, but shut 3 or 4 then they all shout and the counciers buckle we the persure.

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No it needs the people of these sceptered isles and their elected representatives to understand the situation that they face, and that tough decisions will have to be made and they will affect all community's in Shetland in one way or another. the rampant overspend cant continue ad infinitum, if it does then it will a come to an end and everything will be cut back beyond recognition. It does not need some consultant fae sooth to tell them what they already know within the environs o da toon hall. :x

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No it needs the people of these sceptered isles and their elected representatives to understand the situation that they face, and that tough decisions will have to be made and they will affect all community's in Shetland in one way or another. the rampant overspend cant continue ad infinitum, if it does then it will a come to an end and everything will be cut back beyond recognition. It does not need some consultant fae sooth to tell them what they already know within the environs o da toon hall. :x

 

Good points well put penfold - I seem to think Neil Galbraith was employed on a consultancy basis anyway. In any case, the decision on this can't be made by anyone other than the councillors.

 

Its understandable that councillors who represent wards where schools are proposed for closure are going to oppose them - what baffled me about the decision not to go ahead last time was just how many other councillors sided with the no camp. Most now speak very sensibly about the need for savings but they still don't seem to be able to make difficult decisions to implement the recommendations officials or consultants come up with. In this case, only 6 councillors represent wards where school closures are proposed which leaves another 20 (?) who I would have thought had nothing to lose by voting for them (including quite a number in Lerwick where making a decision on this would mean that a replacement school for Bells Brae and an extended Sound could be progressed). Not only that, but parts of those 6 constituencies (Yell and Northmavine for example) would be unaffected by the proposed closures, raising the issue whether the councillors in those areas (if they do indeed vote against the closures) are representing the majority of their electorate or just taking the easy option by siding with the loud minority.

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In this case, only 6 councillors represent wards where school closures are proposed which leaves another 20 (?) who I would have thought had nothing to lose by voting for them

 

Ah, but do these six have favours to call in from any of the rest - and will those 20-ish be thinking 'if I do that for them, they will help me out when I need it'.

 

I actually agree that costs needs to be cut, and if they have to close schools in order to do that, then needs must.

 

But I do think there needs to be more consultation with the people affected. Last time around we were given an already completed proposal to fight. My anger wasn't so much at the proposed closure of the school, as to the school we were supposed to be merging with.

 

I think the councillors need to say 'yeah, ok, these schools will be closing, but lets speak to the people in the area and find out what they want from this - where they want their children to go - and see if we can find a way that is acceptable to most'.

 

For example - North Roe has close ties to Ollaberry school - but the last proposal had them going to Urafirth. Ollaberry school is really quite big and I think it could relatively straighforwardly accommodate the additional pupils, pupils that already know each other from the joint work they do together.

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In this case, only 6 councillors represent wards where school closures are proposed which leaves another 20 (?) who I would have thought had nothing to lose by voting for them

 

Ah, but do these six have favours to call in from any of the rest - and will those 20-ish be thinking 'if I do that for them, they will help me out when I need it'.

 

I actually agree that costs needs to be cut, and if they have to close schools in order to do that, then needs must.

 

But I do think there needs to be more consultation with the people affected. Last time around we were given an already completed proposal to fight. My anger wasn't so much at the proposed closure of the school, as to the school we were supposed to be merging with.

 

I think the councillors need to say 'yeah, ok, these schools will be closing, but lets speak to the people in the area and find out what they want from this - where they want their children to go - and see if we can find a way that is acceptable to most'.

 

For example - North Roe has close ties to Ollaberry school - but the last proposal had them going to Urafirth. Ollaberry school is really quite big and I think it could relatively straighforwardly accommodate the additional pupils, pupils that already know each other from the joint work they do together.

 

I hear what you’re saying about the councillors – although it would be nice to think that they held the long term financial health of the SIC in higher regard than doing favours for their buddies.

 

The problem with consultation (as far as whether to close a school or not goes at least) is that it’s a double-edged sword - if the SIC doesn’t consult they’re slated, if they do but then decide not to side with either the majority or a vociferous minority they’re accused of not listening. No matter what they do, they are going to get a hard time.

 

Certainly the example you give of a choice of alternative school is something that the Council should be consulting parents on – and I would have thought that to compensate for the loss of a school they should be doing as much as possible to accommodate parents wishes – but I suspect the discussion elsewhere will be bogged down by outright opposition. In any case from a locational/transportation/cost point of view (Northmavine probably being the only exception) there aren’t many alternatives to where the SIC are proposing pupils from the closed schools would transfer to.

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I absolutely agree with you shetlander - I just don't have a huge amount of confidence in the councillors we have. Hopefully I will be proved wrong.

 

And yes, the will get a hard time - but probably for a shirt while until it all setlles down. Better the decision being made and acted upon, than this whole protracted affair of 'ok we might' 'ok but we don't want you to' 'ok then we won't' scenario that repeats every couple of years.

 

Just make the decision already and let everyone get on with it!

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  • 2 months later...

(**Mod edit - copied from another thread**)

 

Since this is back on the council's agenda as a new item I think we need a new thread for this topic.

 

I am going to start with Papa Stour school. Is it not time for the council to decide that the school is going to be permanently closed and that any new people moving to the island do so on the understanding that there is no school and that they are responsible for getting their kids to the Sandness school.

 

Logic behind this is that cuts have to be made in the education budget and that the savings made by closing Papa Stour's school could be used to keep Sandness open. After all Papa Stour seems to attract transient weirdos and the money saved by closing the school could well be used for other small schools.

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I hear what you're saying JustMe - having to recruit staff and then lay off/move them time and time again must be a pain in the ass for the SIC. I assume they have an obligation though to provide education in Papa Stour if there are primary school aged bairns there?

 

On the topic of the other schools, I see that a timetable has been drawn up for consultation for their closure and the fate of some won't be known for another four years...... surely to god a decision should be made whether or not to close all of the schools earmarked for possible closure now instead of dragging things out even longer?

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Education is the foundation of our community and culture. This is a question of priorities, and I would much rather spend money on our childrens' education than on wider roads, huge ferries, all the many trips South by sports clubs, etc. If money MUST be saved on education, then why not listen to where the pupils, teachers and parents would prefer cuts to be made, instead of closing very successful schools and taking the heart out of their communities?

 

For research on comparitive benefits of small schools compared to large schools look at:

 

www.hse.org.uk

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shetlander wrote

I assume they have an obligation though to provide education in Papa Stour if there are primary school aged bairns there?

 

Not so sure that they do........if a school is closed on the mainland there seems that there is no obligation on councils to open it again and I would have to say that any new incomers to Papa Stour could well be told that there is no school and they will have to make their own arrangements to get their kids to school. I.E. no commuter runs of the ferry.

 

Alternative option would be housing primary school bairns from Papa Stour at the hostel in Lerwick.

 

Styles wrote

I hope they bite the bullet and shut all the schools that are up for closure. At least they will save some money that way.

 

I do not think it should come to that. Consideration should be given to each school based on current school numbers, projected new numbers from under fives in the area, distance to the new school, condition of the roads, condition of the school buildings, savings expected from closing a school, the school's record in Ofsted reports and of course my favourite point that a larger school may well benefit the bairns education.

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Education is the foundation of our community and culture. This is a question of priorities, and I would much rather spend money on our childrens' education than on wider roads, huge ferries, all the many trips South by sports clubs, etc. If money MUST be saved on education, then why not listen to where the pupils, teachers and parents would prefer cuts to be made, instead of closing very successful schools and taking the heart out of their communities?

 

For research on comparitive benefits of small schools compared to large schools look at:

 

www.hse.org.uk

 

New roads and ferries are Capital expenditure. The current exercise is an attempt to find savings in Revenue expenditure (i.e. the day to day running cost of things). Education, Social Work and Ferries cost the Council most to run and managers in all of these services are quite rightly being asked to come up with savings. I agree that the day to day running costs of the ferries and the money spent on the likes of sending sporting groups south needs to be looked at.

 

Nobody likes to advocate the closure of schools and the reaction from the communities which stand to be affected is fully understandable. However, at some point common sense and the cost of running the small schools has to take precedence over the community or educational benefits (whether real or perceived) of having them. Can you seriously say that you think providing a secondary school for two pupils or primary schools with almost as many staff than pupils is money well spent? Children may well benefit from low pupil to teacher ratios in terms of individual attention but what about the social and educational benefits of bigger schools? In any case, the primary schools which would gain pupils if the suggested schools are closed (Baltasound, Mid Yell, Ollaberry and Happyhansel) are small successful schools themselves, offer a high standard of education and have low pupil to teacher ratios. None of that is likely to change significantly and none are going to be swamped by an influx of pupils if the other schools are closed.

 

Yes, in an ideal world the Council should be basing their cuts on the wishes of parents, pupils and staff – but is that really going to achieve the kind of savings that need to be made here?

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