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Teachers demand delay in school consultation

TEACHERS in Shetland have welcomed a decision by Shetland Islands Council to delay a decision on changing secondary education at its island junior high schools.

Earlier this month the council proposed that secondary pupils on the islands of Whalsay, Yell and Unst should transfer to high school in Lerwick or Brae at age 14, rather than 15 at present.

The move would save Symbister junior high school from consultation on closure as part of the council’s Blueprint for Education to save £3 million by closing four secondary and five primary schools.

On Tuesday the teacher’s union Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) called for the decision to be delayed until after the school holidays to allow for “proper and meaningful consultation with parents, teachers and the wider community”.

Shetland EIS assistant secretary Valerie Hughson said both the timing and content of the council’s recent announcement had caused anger amongst Shetland teachers.

Hughson said teachers were disappointed that no meaningful consultation had taken place on “this fundamental change to the delivery of education”.

The council responded swiftly to the request, agreeing to delay the report until the SIC’s education and families committee meeting on 11 September.

Welcoming the delay, Hughson said: “We are pleased because the holidays was not a suitable time for this to be happening and it allows a little bit more time for discussions to take place.”

Director of children’s services Helen Budge added: “This timescale will allow the comments of teachers and others to be taken into account prior to the report being presented.”

The proposal to remove s4 education from the three island secondaries was made after considering the best age for children to transfer from one school to another was after s3.

A report on the proposal was sent out to school staff and parents councils two and a half weeks ago.