25th May 2018
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Bressay primary is in danger of closing

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Bressay Primary School is at risk of closure because of dwindling pupil numbers attending lessons there.

Only half a dozen children will be in classes at the school after the summer holidays come to an end next month – a marked drop on the 40 youngsters who attended lessons there 10 years ago.

So far no-one has opted to put their younger children to the nursery from August – although that could change because parents can opt to send their children to any nursery.

The downturn in pupil numbers has been put down to convenience, as parents of school-age kids who commute to Lerwick find it easier and more practical to have their children educated close at hand in the town.

A public meeting will be held tomorrow night to discuss its future, although education officials admit closing the school could be possible.

Councillor for the area Allan Wishart said more than half of the school-age children living in the isle travel across the Bressay Sound for their lessons every day.

But he said the fall in pupil numbers – and the subsequent threat now left hanging over the school – was worrying for those who lived and worked in Bressay.

“I think what’s happening is that after the summer holidays there will only be a handful, probably six kids in Bressay.

“When I started in the last council there were over 20, and it has just slowly declined. I think there are probably still in the teens of pupils – probably 15 or 16 altogether – so more than half of them are travelling out of Bressay now for their education.

“I think it’s convenience, a lot of it, but it does leave a number in Bressay who reside in Bressay, stay in Bressay [during the working week], and would obviously want their children to go to school in Bressay.

“So there is the whole bigger picture of society in Bressay and how school plays a part in that.

“That’s why we are holding a meeting to get views on possible closure of the school.

“It’s not easy for parents and families who stay in Bressay and want to see education continue there.”

Mr Wishart agreed there was irony as while communities in other parts of the isles face a potential battle to keep their schools open, in Bressay there was one which was almost, effectively, closing itself.

Education official Audrey Edwards said the school had gone through a number of changes in recent years and the education department needed to consult with the community in the isle.

“We’ve had dialogue with parents already. The purpose of the meeting is to just try and determine a way forward for Bressay primary school, and it’s really important that anyone with an interest comes along.

“There have been a lot of changes in Bressay Primary School over the last few years and we really need to engage now with the community and determine a way forward.”

Tomorrow’s public meeting will be held in the Bressay Public Hall at 6.30pm.

 

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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