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Education / Cullivoe parent council ‘relieved and thankful’ as mothballing process set to be stopped

Cullivoe Primary School.

THE CULLIVOE parent council has spoken of its relief after it was confirmed the primary school’s possible mothballing is set to be called off.

Parent council chair Alan Keith said the process had caused “unnecessary anxiety” in the Yell community.

It was confirmed earlier this week that councillors will, at a meeting next month, be recommended to stop the process due to the projected increase in the Cullivoe school roll.

Both the Cullivoe and Skeld primary schools had been placed in consideration of mothballing due to their school roll in relation to the building’s capacity.

But the Cullivoe community was frustrated that their school was included, saying a roll figure presented in a update to councillors at a meeting earlier this month was out of date – and that the school numbers no longer met the threshold for mothballing consideration.

Under principles agreed by councillors last year, consideration of possible mothballing would kick in when a school roll reaches under 20 per cent capacity.

The parent council said in light of the recommendation to halt the process, “sense has prevailed”.

It said the process “should never have been allowed to start, and our community not subjected to pointless stress and speculation”.

The parent council also claimed there were “artificially inflated school capacity numbers” at play.

Keith said: “We are pleased to see council officials finally recognise the reality of Cullivoe’s school roll, but we are vexed beyond belief that it took so much time – and so much strife – to get to today’s decision.

“The SIC’s school ‘mothballing’ policy is not fit for purpose, and how it ascertains pupil capacity for its rural schools needs urgent review.

“Councillors have asked for a ‘lessons learned’ report to be produced, and we hope to have the chance to contribute towards that, so that Cullivoe – or any other school community in Shetland – need not be subjected to this level of unnecessary anxiety ever again.”

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Secretary Kate Lonsdale added: “Parents in Cullivoe are very grateful to their wider community for such staunch support of the school, and to local councillors who supported us through an ultimately successful campaign

“We now look forward to a bright future for Cullivoe, with our school remaining the heart and soul of this community.

“We also wish folk in Skeld the very best in their efforts to avoid school ‘mothballing’ – which we consider to be school closure in all but name.”

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