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Shetland schools and education system


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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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Inverness is just starting building a new secondary school (millburn academy) at a total cost of £ 26M (not including all demolition works of existing buildings). Taking an approximate increase for shipping materials to shetland, but not including for the lower hourly rates paid to shetland based trades, we would expect to pay around £28M for the same building in Shetland. Can't we start looking seriously for input to prevent the scale of the project outweighing the use of the building. There is a proposed early contractor involvement to reduce waste and try to find more efficient ways to built the school, but no-one believes the powers that be will allow the project to be something other than a over the top "symbol". Shetland can do without the further evidence that we can't manage our affairs efficiently (a quote given by councillor's over the bridge debacle). Furthermore the Highlands and Islands have just committed £ 134M to build eleven schools. Will children at those schools result in a lower education because their schools were cheaper to build?

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While our councillors are having to look after their own positions, nothing will happen as regarding the education system, either social improvements or cost saving. Any councillor approving the closure of their own school might as well pack up local government as they will be finished politically.

 

I however, have a plan.

 

What we need to do is to create an anonomous education plan for the entire Islands, which will provide an anonomous school quantity and location depending on the number of bairns in each location requiring education.

 

Given it will be anonomous, the councillors will not know which schools are being looked at either for either growth or closure. At the end of the process, the anonominity would be removed, with hopefully a clear blue print of the educational needs of the Islands, becoming apparent. All surplus establishements would close.

 

Many schools might close, but none of the councillors could be 'blamed' as they were acting on behalf of the educational needs of the Islands, and not covering their own patch.

 

Then again, I suppose, nothing will change as that would be far too sensible!

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So the Council are to postpone making a decision on the first two schools to be considered for closure (Sandness Primary and Skerries Secondary) until the autumn.

 

If they leave it till the autumn that takes us into another school year. I don't know what the pupil numbers are for the two schools, but it might be a move to hope that the role in the new year sorts out the problem (new enrolments or school leavers).

 

School closures are never popular but people get used to them - look at the south mainland with Dunrossness primary covering everything south of Sandwick. Pupils in Fair Isle don't have the option of secondary schooling.

 

Changes happen all the time in education - Standard Grades, Higher Still, A Curriculum for Excellence and so on. It's not always the SIC who force the change.

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Pre-elections last time round, Peter Malcolmson was Education spokesman and the closure of the Quarff school was being proposed. At the elections Peter lost his seat, yet the school was closed within 6 months of the election. I never heard a cheep from Peter's successor, come to that I don't think I have heard him mentioned since the last election results were declared. Anyone know who replaced Peter on the council ?

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Pre-elections last time round, Peter Malcolmson was Education spokesman and the closure of the Quarff school was being proposed. At the elections Peter lost his seat, yet the school was closed within 6 months of the election. I never heard a cheep from Peter's successor, come to that I don't think I have heard him mentioned since the last election results were declared. Anyone know who replaced Peter on the council ?

 

Geoff Feather I believe....

 

http://www.shetland-news.co.uk/archives/pages/news%20stories/2003/April%202003/candidates_line_up_for_election_battle_%E2%80%93_8th_april.htm

 

....and right enough, he does seem to have been one of the quietest ones of late.

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It seems the education system has gone the same way as the rest of the council, they have created so many jobs during a frenzy of crazed spending that the whole thing is just one big inefficient mess. When I was in school there were only half the amount of staff that there are now, the quality of teaching was first class.

 

I think a new Anderson high school is just money wasted. A new building will not result in the pupils being better educated, but you will get a bigger building in which to hide even more staff, exacerbating the problem further.

 

Shutting down schools in the more remote areas, in the aim of saving money is like using a band-aid to stick a severed limb back on. Its not going to help the people of these islands in the long run.

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  • 8 months later...

I disagree entirely. They made the correct decision.

The savings made would be minimal compared to the effect it would have had on these communities and the children involved.

 

Bussing children back and forth is not particularly practical, nor is it good for the children to spend so long travelling during their formative years.

 

If you're looking to save money, there are many better ways to achieve this than by sabotaging the outlying communities.

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As I understand it the decision still has to go to the full council to be talked about again before it is confirmed. Maybe cutting back on meetings that cannot make a firm decision would be a good place to look for savings.

 

Coming to the decisions themselves I have to think, on the information I have at the moment, that the decision on Skerries Secondary sounds like complete madness but I would want to look at the costs of educating the one pupil elsewhere making sure that transport and accommodation costs were calculated properly as well as considering how many new secondary pupils are expected in the school in the next few years.

 

From what I remember of the road from Sandness to Walls I would not like to think of the younger children having to travel that route on a winters day so I would have voted to keep the school open but sending a clear message to the parents that should the road be improved and the school roll had remained very low then I would expect to be voting for closure and meanwhile any money spent on the school should be limited to essential maintenance.

 

Of course what is really interesting is that the council needs to cut spending by some £9 million per year and this proposal would lave less than £200,000. Must be something bigger that could be explored in an effort to control expenditure........head office?.

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Closing schools in remote areas like Skerries to save a money is probably not a good idea, when you consider that a secondary school might be the only differance between families staying on the island and leaving for the mainland.

Skerries has seen a downturn in population recently and every effort should be made to halt the depopulation and attract new residents. Do you think any families with children of secondary school age will move to an island without a secondary department?

Skerries currently has 6 fishing boats, a salmon farm and a processing factory providing employment on the island, which are adding a lot more to Shetlands economy than will be saved by closing the schools secondary department.

Where will the workforce for these jobs be if more families leave for the mainland due to a lack of education facilities on the island.

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A one pupil school is a bloody farce, and how many times on here have folks writen about how good the hostel was for them, I know when I was that age if I had the choice of being stuck in skerries or in the hostel I would of plumped for the hostel.

the skerries may turn out some bonny lasses but they would more than likely be your cousin while the bruce hostel is full of bonny lasses and 99% would be no blood tie, heaven for any teenager :D

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It is a popular misconseption that there is a school in Skerries with just one pupil attending and all this money could be saved by shutting the Skerries Secondary School, when in actual fact it is the same buildings as the primary school uses so the only savings would be the teachers salary.

The building will still be being used so it will still have to be heated and maintained and all the assosiated costs will still be there.

I don't know how much the travel and hostel expenses are but it wouldn't be far away from the figure saved by shutting the secondary department, is it worth taking the risk that it might destroy a small community for a few pounds when the council is blowing millions on things like the Norrona and the Bressay Bridge etc.

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