Views from the Scord

School future

The future of education provision for Scalloway and the school’s wider catchment area now hangs in the balance, with the threat of closure of the school’s secondary department being one of only two viable options presented to parents by the education department of the SIC for their input at a forthcoming public meeting. Parents were recently sent a weighty and comprehensive bundle of documents. Among the huge body of information, the only options described as “viable” are to either close the secondary department of the school or transfer pupils to Lerwick for fourth year onwards.

The Scalloway Junior High School Parent Council is emphasising to parents in the area that there are only two avenues being offered for parents to provide input on this, the first being a public meeting on Wednesday and the other to return the forms included in their pack.

Parent council vice-chairwoman Karen Eunson asserts that, although this consultation is regarded as “informal”, it may be pivotal to the whole future of the school.

With regard to the information pack sent out to parents she says: “The pack is so complicated our biggest concern is that folk may not respond or attend the meeting and therefore their views on the kind of secondary education they want for their children will not be taken into account.”

The parent council is putting up posters round the area to encourage parents to attend the meeting.

The complex Blueprint for Education consultation takes in many strategic factors but parental opinion is an essential part of a balanced outcome, and therefore it is crucial that parents make their views known.

This change in education provision will affect the whole Central Mainland outside of Lerwick including Scalloway, Burra, Trondra, Nesting, Whiteness and Weisdale and it is believed that this is the only meeting being staged for this extended area and, hence, the only direct opportunity for parents to contribute.

The same “viable” options have also been put forward for secondary education in Mid Yell, Aith, Whalsay and Sandwick.

The whole blueprint consultation process has spawned many concerns from residents in the area, but the most feared of these, the closure of rural primary schools, has not arisen as a possibility at this stage for the Central Mainland.

However, there are still real fears in the community that this outcome may follow on behind whatever is decided at this time, particularly if the secondary department of the school closes altogether.

The much-touted Curriculum for Excellence, being brought into education in the immediate future, is also considered a factor in the options available. It appears that the holistic, vocational and personal approach to education that is sought under the new curriculum would be well suited to a junior high school setting which delivers education from 3-16, like Scalloway, and much more difficult to achieve at a larger secondary school.

Parents, or prospective parents, of children who will attend Scalloway or other Central Mainland schools are strongly urged to attend the meeting, which opens at 7pm on Wednesday at Scalloway Junior High School.

Harbour activity

Some bumper fish landings began the year, with a couple of vessels going to sea prior to Hogmanay to capitalise on the inflated prices that consistently occur at the first market of the year.

The Alison Kay dominated the first market on Monday with a substantial catch of 469 boxes. Also landing the same day were the Fertile and Radiant Star with 52 and 85 boxes respectively.

The second market, on Tuesday, saw both these boats land again, along with the Radiance and Orcadian trawler Keila, which landed a massive 549 boxes, the biggest landing of the week.

Wednesday saw no landings and the week was rounded off with landings from the Devotion, Mizpah and Sharyn Louise, along with another trip by the Fertile.

Shellfish aquaculture vessels have been busy in the first week of the year with daily landings of mussels through the port. An estimated tonnage for these landings stands at around 34 tonnes from two local operators.

Scalloway was unusually quiet in regard to oil-related shipping over the festive period with no offshore vessels calling in. Previous years have seen the harbour lit up during the period with vessels operating to the west of Shetland taking the opportunity to lay in at some point over the winter break period.

This absence of shipping at this time is in some ways emblematic of a year that has apparently seen a general downturn in larger shipping in the port overall. The reasons for this may be multiple and complex.

Such subtleties as change in onshore shipping company management or changes in ships’ captains and their perception of the harbour approaches can be examples of why vessels either appear or don’t. Whatever the cause, pierhead skippers consider this to be perhaps the quietest year for large shipping movements for many years.

Meanwhile the fishing industry has taken a turn for the better during 2009 despite, or perhaps because of, increased European restrictions on quotas and days at sea, meaning that a number of vessels have used the port rather than waste valuable time steaming to the mainland.

Weekly landings set new record levels during the year, with totals over 3,000 boxes occurring on a number of occasions throughout the year. Harbour reports due later in the year will provide an accurate summary of actual ship movements.

School Christmas fund-raisers

Scalloway pupils held a series of successful concerts and a Christmas dance in the run-up to Christmas.

The primary pupils held two concerts, both of which were filled to capacity. They featured pupils right through from primary one to primary seven and delighted the audience with songs for the choir, nativity scenes, a Shetland play, dialect songs and a Christmas party.

Both nursery sections also held concerts later the same week which featured a selection of songs performed by the nursery bairns which, according to one visitor, “captured the hearts of the audience”.

The secondary pupils’ Christmas dance was also hailed a success and raised and impressive £150 for charity.

Mark Burgess


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.