20th May 2018
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Large turnout expected for crucial schools meeting

Councillors are likely to face a barrage of opposition to their proposals to change the shape of secondary education when they meet tomorrow.

A petition containing over 1,300 signatures from Yell alone will be presented to SIC leaders ahead of a crucial education and families committee meeting in the town hall. The long list of names has been put together in just three days.

The community in Yell is united against proposals which, if implemented, will mean Mid Yell Junior High pupils heading off to the Anderson High in Lerwick from the beginning of their third year. Youngsters in Whalsay and Unst face the same prospect.

Mid Yell parent council chairman John Irvine says the council will face its biggest challenge should it decide to push ahead with recommendations made by education adviser Don Ledingham.

“It [the petition] has at least 1,300 [signatures]. It was at that this morning and I imagine it will rise a bit. I could see it being nearer 1,500 at least, and that has basically been done in 72 hours.

“Words fail me over the response there has been for this. I’ve never, ever seen such a concerted effort from people to come forward and show their horror of what is happening.”

Mr Irvine’s comments follow a public meeting in the isle, where people were united against the proposals to slim down the level of secondary education in the North Isles.

“I suppose I wasn’t surprised [with the report] because I met with Don Ledingham when he first came up to Shetland to start this. I got the impression this was what was going to be in the report.

“We had to just wait and see what he wrote… I’m not totally surprised, but I think a lot in the community were horrified.

“Everybody feels that they have to do something and that if we thought it would make a difference it was worth doing anything.

“This is not going to go away. If it doesn’t make a difference and it’s voted through this is going to be the biggest fight the council has ever seen.”

Meanwhile parents in the West Side have also pledged to be out in force at tomorrow’s meeting in protest of controversial plans to end secondary education in Aith from next year.

Aith Action Group is advising parents not to deprive their children of school lessons by taking them to the meeting. Instead, the protest body is urging them to take large photographs of any youngsters who will be affected by the closure, should it go ahead.

Interestingly, the group is also promising to reveal a “simple and effective next step” to get its message across.

The Sandwick secondary is also under the threat of closure as part of the council’s bid to shave £3.25 million from its education budget.

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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2 comments

  1. Kari Hamilton

    The above quoted figures are from a petition collated from all the North isles. Whalsay, Yell and Unst are standing together on this and are speaking as one voice to save the isles schools and protect our isles communities. Representatives from all the isles will be at the town hall tomorrow to support all our rural junior highs.

    Reply
  2. John K Smith

    I agree with Mr Irvine.
    If the council pushes ahead with ANY school closure then it will be “the biggest fight the council has ever seen.”
    I am a supporter of The Sandwick Junior High School, a truly successful school, and will be outside the Town Hall on Wednesday morning for the crucial meeting. That doesn’t mean I don’t support any other Save Our School group; we are all in the same boat and must join together to give the council the biggest fight they have ever seen.

    Reply

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