The task of designing, delivering and sustaining primary, secondary and tertiary education in rural Scotland is complex and challenging.
The means and method of achieving such will always be open to permutation and debate and rightly so.
Failure in many areas of Scotland, but particularly here in Shetland, to achieve a consensus that balances educational need with available resources reflects just how difficult this task is. This should never prevent us from trying, however hard and sometimes unpalatable the task.
The tactics of (1) “kicking the can” further and further up the road, (2) seeking a moratorium to effectively ring-fence the largest area of local authority spend, (3) leaving other service areas on their own to face the challenge of demand perennially being ahead of available resources may all appear to be attractive options. As a strategy for these islands however they are at best myopic and at worst selfish.
Against this backdrop it was extremely disappointing to read the tone and content in sections of the SIC chief under fire over school closure decision (SN, 11/03/15) article and the language on display in the Asset stripping (SN, 11/03/15) letter from Jeremy Sansom.
To reduce this challenge to one of aggressive invective and personal attack does nothing to help resolve a problem where the consequences of failure will face us all, not just one section of our society.
It is also a poor example to set for the children and students that we seek to offer the best opportunity in life that we can collectively craft from the finite resources available to us.
The decision to discontinue the consultations (issues of merit and legality aside) offers us all the chance to reflect. A mirror might be a good place to start…