SNP - Tom Wills

Call to delay Scalloway school closure

SEVEN Shetland councillors are leading a call to keep Scalloway secondary department open for a few more years after the local authority’s decision to close it last December was backed by the Scottish government.

Local members Andrew Hughson and Iris Hawkins have rallied support from five fellow councillors, including the convener and vice convener, for their notice of motion, which goes to the full council on 17 May.

Scalloway secondary department was due to close at the end of the summer term after a huge community campaign failed to persuade councillors to keep it open. The government called the decision in, but then gave it their blessing.

The closure is part of Shetland Islands Council’s Blueprint for Education review, which is seeking to close a further four primary schools this year and reduce the education department’s £42 million budget.

A meeting between the Scalloway parents council and SIC head of schools Helen Budge last month raised several concerns about the transition to the new school, with a follow up meeting arranged for Wednesday to see how those matters are being resolved.

One of the main worries is the lack of space in the social and dining areas at the Anderson High, which is already causing problems even before the arrival of 116 kids from Scalloway.

The notice of motion says the decision to close the school “left the community disillusioned with the council’s obvious disregard of the clear opinions expressed throughout the consultation to support the maintenance of secondary education in Scalloway”.

It adds: “The community’s concerns as to the capability of the accommodation available at the Anderson High School to accept pupils from Scalloway alongside current pupils have not been alleviated. The effect on all pupils concerned will be detrimental.”

The proposal to delay the closure until a new high school has been built in Lerwick would push it back several years, as the council is still deliberating over the site of the new school at Staney Hill.

The five councillors who have added their name to Mr Hughson and Mrs Hawkins’ motion are convener Sandy Cluness, vice convener Josie Simpson, North Isles members Robert Henderson and Laura Baisley and Shetland North member Alastair Cooper.

Mr Hughson said all the councillors they had approached for support had got behind them, but fellow Shetland Central member Betty Fullerton had been unable to do so as she is away.

The council’s services committee will debate the proposed closure of the four primary schools in Uyeasound, Burravoe, North Roe and Sandness on 10 May.

In December councillors voted to keep the closure threatened secondary department in Skerries, the smallest in Scotland, saying that it would have too big an impact on the small island’s economic and social infrastructure.

 

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