The re-opening of Papa Stour’s primary school is a “tremendous opportunity” amid ongoing efforts to attract young families to the isle, a local councillor said today.
It will reopen following the October holidays after the SIC’s services committee unanimously approved a move which will cost the local authority nearly £60,000 a year, after a new family with two young children moved to Papa.
At a time when the council is consulting on the possible closure of two secondaries and five primary schools to save money, the irony of opening a small island school was not lost on some elected members. But there was no suggestion other than that it is the right thing to do, with the schools service believing that transporting primary-age children to the Mainland from an island is “not acceptable”.
An early years class of two pupils, one nursery and primary, will be formed with a principal teacher, a 2.5 hours a week relief teacher and a part-time clerical assistant – who may be able to carry out the work from an existing school – and it will cost £23,661 for the remaining five months of the current financial year.
The Papa school will enter into a “shared management” arrangement with a local primary school, and the total staff and running costs for a full year will be £56,786.
West Side councillor Frank Robertson said: “I’m very pleased to see the school opened again after being mothballed for five years. We’re trying to encourage young families to settle because they are the life of the community.”
He added: “The question about people settling in the island is the need for job opportunities and housing. That’s the area we have to look at.”
Despite having been closed for five years, the building is said to be in good condition: it is wind and watertight and background heating has been maintained, according to the schools service.