19th February 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Unfair and unjustified

It is quite interesting to see which councillors voted for closure of Scalloway secondary school.

Five of them are Lerwick councillors, who might be seen to have a vested interest in closing the school, in order to justify the building of a huge and ridiculously expensive new school in Lerwick.

I’m willing to bet that the savings, if any, from the closure of our thriving secondary department will be a mere drop in the ocean, financially speaking. More money could be saved by repairing and updating the existing school and building an adequate canteen block, able to provide a hot meal for all the students, something which the current Anderson High School is unable to do, and abandoning the plans for a monstrous new-build.

Councillors representing Shetland West and Shetland South all voted to close the school but then they have junior high schools, anyway, at Aith and Sandwick, neither of which has been threatened with closure, yet.

Two out of the three councillors for Shetland North also voted for closure but they, too, have a high school at Brae, which is also safe, for now. Children in all these areas have the option to attend the AHS, if they wish to do so. They have a choice.

Scalloway is not a satellite of Lerwick. It has its own history and its own unique character. If we have no secondary school we have no choice. There is only Lerwick.

I understand that it is only 10 minutes, by car, to the town but councillors need to understand that not all parents drive cars. We have our own GP practice. If a child needs to see a doctor, they may have to miss half a day of schooling to do so, if they have to rely on public transport. Out of school activities may well not be available to them at all if no buses are running at the appropriate times. (It’s quite a long walk.)

Pupils already at the AHS will find themselves having even more difficulty getting a hot meal at lunch-time. Most will have to rely on fast food outlets on the street. Wonderful. Children who live in Scalloway, Burra, Weisdale or Nesting will have to go a whole day with little or no prospect of proper food and also face increased journey times.

At Scalloway there is a good canteen with adequate seating for all pupils and staff, well-appointed, modern classrooms and sports facilities on site. Standard grade subject choices are as good as those available at the AHS. Where is the advantage, for them, of moving to Lerwick?

Would it not have made more sense to wait until the AHS was able to accommodate more students, either by adaptation and repair of the existing buildings or the building of the new school? This would avoid the awful situation for some children of having to transfer halfway through their standard grades.

At the very least there could have been a phased transfer, enabling parents to elect to send those children about to enter secondary education to the AHS and allowing those already at Scalloway to stay there until the end of fourth year.

Why the rush?

Christine Laurenson
28 Sycamore Avenue,
Scalloway.

One comment

  1. Frank Hay

    Councillor Frank Robertson, when asked why he supported closure of Scalloway secondary on Radio Shetland, said proximity to another school and to save money. No mention of educational benefits to pupils which is supposed to be a key factor in any closure proposal. Councillors now put money before anything else. Ironic, considering how much they have squandered in the recent past.

    Reply

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