Scalloway parents are urging councillors not to close the secondary department of the village’s school because it would result in “no educational benefit” and “dubious” financial savings.
The SIC’s final consultation paper, released earlier this month, recommended that the department be shut to save an estimated £700,000 a year.
But in a detailed 24-page response, the parents claim the process Hayfield has carried out does not comply with the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) 2010 Act. It accuses the local authority of “misleading and biased” presentation of information and adopting a “threatening” and “bullying” tone in its reports.
Councillors will meet in Lerwick Town Hall next Tuesday to decide whether to press ahead with the closure, along with that of the three-pupil secondary department in Skerries, at the end of the current school year in June 2011.
Parent council spokeswoman Karen Eunson re-iterated her suggestion, made inThe Shetland Times two weeks ago, that if councillors accept this closure it will spell the end for junior highs across the isles.
Scalloway parents fear the loss of strong ties between the junior high and the village community. They are worried about the impact on current S3 pupils who will have to shift schools in the middle of their two-year Standard Grade courses should the department shut next summer.
Pupils would then move to the Anderson High School in Lerwick next August. Parents highlight the limited canteen area and social spaces at the AHS, with a new school at lower Staney Hill not expected to be ready until at least 2017. It is suggested the SIC could save significantly by building a new AHS designed for a smaller number of pupils.
Just under half of first year pupils within Scalloway’s catchment area are educated in Lerwick at present. The parents say Whiteness and Weisdale pupils traditionally tend to go to the AHS but few from Scalloway and Hamnavoe do, while placing requests for the town school from parents with children in Tingwall and Nesting “rise and fall directly in relation to the three threats of closure the school has faced”.
On the money front, the response suggests it would not be feasible for 40 members of staff to be either redeployed to a different school, retired or handed redundancy by 2013.
The parents point to a 30 per cent reduction in the estimated financial savings since June, adding: “This is inadequate information on which to base the closure of a highly valued school which has the support of pupils, teachers, parents and the wider community.”
Ms Eunson said parents and pupils wanted the isles’ 22 councillors to vote on the basis of all available facts and “we thought it was important to provide them with the information missing from the schools service report”.