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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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Odd though that it is considered just fine to send nursery age kids to the nursery at Happyhansel, but not the older ones.

 

However, nursery is not compulsory, it's an optional extra thing. Nursery is not so important educationally - it's more a social thing really, and a convenience for parents. If the weather's bad, well they just don't go and don't really miss out on any curriculum.

 

Missing days off your primary school each year is something else; as is the time spent travelling at an age where an hour a day spent learning an instrument, or playing outside would be far more beneficial.

 

Never mind the fact that it makes Sandness far less viable as a whole, thus ensuring that people are reluctant to move into the perfectly good houses at Gostagert, for example.

 

Given that house prices in Lerwick are bordering on ridiculous and that there is an increasing population drift towards Lerwick and surrounding areas, surely it's desirable to make outlying communities more viable, not the other way around.

 

There's far more to this subject than the few quid involved. And really, that's all it is, in the grand scheme: a few quid. I'd far rather we didn't have a fancy cinema and music venue than to see the rural communities which are, ironically so central to Shetland's self-image and heritage, die out.

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At risk of being flamed down here

 

I partially agree with Fjool here. As someone who grew up in Sandness I would love to see a community thrive again.. but I personally feel that Sandness has past that stage of no return as far as that goes.

 

Yes the road is terrible, but from what I can tell most toddlers already make that trek to go to nursery and playgroup in walls.. the only difference is they are driven by their parents and not on a bus. Other than it being a terrible road.. it still would only be 40 minutes of the child's day travelling.. Not much if any more than what the average pupil spends traveling to a school around the UK ( a guess. but it would surprise me if it was much less than that. ) and it is not that much further than anyone going to school from dale of walls. I would be interested to know what the difference between would be, between closing the school.. and have something like a gritter on standby to ensure the children got to and from school.

 

The School is the only thing left in Sandness.. but again personally i don't see it being there making any difference to how the community already functions.. there appears to be no community as it is.. for example the hall gets used more as a funeral parlor now a days than some where for people to go and be social.

 

I feel what they would lose is less than compared to what the pupils would gain with being around more children, and having more to inspire and entertain them, other than 5 or 6 other children that are most likely their brother or sister.

 

If I am wrong then I apologise as I'm no longer a resident in Sandness, and these are observations made from comments made to me by people who live there.

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there appears to be no community as it is.. for example the hall gets used more as a funeral parlor now a days than some where for people to go and be social.

You are very wrong on this point. You just haven't been in Sandness much. And the people who I think will have made those comments to you avoid the community of their own choice anyway, so can hardly speak as a consensus. From what I've seen recently, the community is still as strong and supportive as it ever was when I was growing up there: parties at the hall, supper dances, treasure hunts, beach parties, school concerts, Sunday teas regularly; they even have 'Fish and Chips' night at the hall now and again.

 

And, from the last event I was at (Halloween party at the Sandness hall) there were many children; several pre-school, looking to start at the school in the very near future.

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My kids chose to go to Sandness primary school. They didn't want to go to HappyHansel for their own reasons.

 

I respected that and drove them to Sandness every day from our house in Mid Walls (so we were almost equidistant to both schools, give or take a few minutes in the car).

 

For many years, I traipsed up and down the road and most of it is not too bad as I use the "new" road between Dale and Sandness. In winter, a small covering of snow, however, could close that road. I even bought a Landrover so that we were as safe as possible in bad weather.

 

The road between Walls and Sandness is hellish - dangerous, goes all over the place and is lethal if you go off it. There are about 2 or 3 accidents on it per year but most go unreported as it is a case of hauling your car out of the ditch and continuing on. Snow piles up, there are few markings, few red/white/black poles about and it floods in places too.

 

Walls is not Sandness. They are two very different communities who live with a large hill in between them and about 7 miles. There is not a single house on the Walls/Sandness road connecting them even closer. They are very apart.

 

Sandness is a fragile independent little place that will slowly disintegrate. One of the Council's main mission statement brochure thingies said their aim was to keep these types of places thriving. By shutting the school, they are hitting the final nail in the coffin. By keeping it open, Sandness can continue as the great little strong community it is.

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Nursery is not so important educationally - it's more a social thing really.

 

Learning social interaction skills within a peer group is an important part of education at an early age and better for society as a whole.

 

(And yes, a good time to get things done with the peerie sharn's oot fae under your feet.) :wink:

 

Also, if the primary school is local and the secondary is, say 12 mile away this means putting out pr.1 bairn's out in the dark most of winter time, if the primary was closed.

The nursery might be 12 mile away also, but starting at 9 and out at dinner time is not nearly as draining on the young eens.

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Learning social interaction skills within a peer group is an important part of education at an early age and better for society as a whole.

Oh, I very much agree with you. I didn't mean to give the impression that it is not valuable.

 

My only comment is really that this kind of social interaction comes in many forms, of which nursery is but one aspect. The distinction I am making is that a pupil under formalised school curriculum will loose out more for missing a day of this, than for missing a day at nursery level. Ergo, nursery level education is less sensitive to travel issues than when the pupil begins formal education.

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There was talk, a few years ago, of closing Burra, Whiteness, Gott & Nesting primary schools, and bussing all the kids to Scalloway, and closing all the nort schools & bussing them to Brae - There was a similar idea for the south mainland too - that never happened. Yet...

 

 

How many schools do Orkney have? How far are their children transported in comparison, and how does their Education bill compare?

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Keep on spending the way we are, and in a few years time there will be no money for the school in walls so any bairns in sandness will have to go all the way to bixter and that really is a trek for them.

Emotions aside it is about time we faced reallity.

The only way we could afford to keep all the remoter schools open is to get independance, the money would not be a problem then, and with folks moving back for the increased prosperity the poulation in Shetland would increase and it would not be such a high cost per pupil.

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Yesterdays decisions were going to save roughly £170,000.

 

Out of the £4.5Million saving education needs to make asap, it amounts to roughly 4% of the total savings needed to be made.

 

If our merry band of councillors cannot even save 4%, doomsday is not really all that far away.

 

If some of you out there thought closing the Skerries JH school or Sandness was a big thing - you aint seen nothing yet!

 

I read that we spend £125,000 on knitting classes? Anyone out there know anyone who wears hand knits these days......................

 

Maybe a simple method of education budgeting is -

 

a) How much money do we have to spend on education?

 

B) What do we have to provide legally, max class sizes, minimum number of schools, as few teachers as we can get away with, actual education requirements, maximum distances bairns can travel, admin and back up staff? What does this actually cost?

 

Work out the sum a-b = (what we can spend on wishful educational needs across the Islands).

 

Anything other than curbing expenses to income is financial susicide (or robbing our rapidly reducing nest egg)

 

Some of the high profile financial investment woopsies are a real drop in the ocean when compared with current SIC running costs.

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Odd though that it is considered just fine to send nursery age kids to the nursery at Happyhansel, but not the older ones.

 

Never mind the fact that it makes Sandness far less viable as a whole, thus ensuring that people are reluctant to move into the perfectly good houses at Gostagert, for example.

 

Given that house prices in Lerwick are bordering on ridiculous and that there is an increasing population drift towards Lerwick and surrounding areas, surely it's desirable to make outlying communities more viable, not the other way around.

 

There's far more to this subject than the few quid involved. And really, that's all it is, in the grand scheme: a few quid. I'd far rather we didn't have a fancy cinema and music venue than to see the rural communities which are, ironically so central to Shetland's self-image and heritage, die out.

 

Interesting that you don’t support the retention of Skerries Secondary on the same grounds Fjool – a case of yes lets make cuts, but not if it affects an area I have a connection with?

 

I don’t dispute that a Primary School can only be a plus if someone is thinking to move somewhere but the school roll in Sandness is the lowest its been in 35 years, so it doesn’t look like its presence has succeeded in retaining folk there in that time.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I share your concern about the population drift towards Lerwick and in an economic development sense I agree that as much as possible should be done to retain folk in places like Sandness – but I’m not convinced that keeping expensive and under-utilised primary schools open is the answer.

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It's hard to see how to do anything about centralization.

 

Improve the roads so that it is practical to work in Lerwick and live further away, and you also make it easier to shop in Lerwick (closing local shops) go out in Lerwick (closing local halls) and have kids go to School in Lerwick (closing local schools).

 

Also as it becomes easier to travel to Lerwick, and people are doing more things there, the reasons for not living nearer to Lerwick become harder to justify.

 

SIC moving some offices farther out of town will come up about now, but that will end up costing more, so not less. It could act as a subsidy to try and sustain rural areas, but as far as cutting the budgets go, it moves the wrong way.

Easiest way to cut budgets without reducing overall services is to centralise...... but as this week has shown that has it's political difficulties.

Not centralising means making heavier cuts to the "average user" than might have been the case thought, and will have it's own headaches for the councilors......

 

In the end they will likely make token cuts where they think it will not be noticed too much and keep topping up the budget from the reserves.

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