As a recently retired head teacher, I am in a position to know that choice is influenced by precedents set. For instance, when one member of a class is granted a placing request, there is a groundswell of similar requests from fellow pupils, regardless of previous individual preference. I hope that our elected councillors will not be influenced in the same way, as they vote on school closures. Surely their grandchildren and great-grandchildren deserve the same choices that were available to their own families.
No community can afford to have its heart plucked out. Councillors need to consider what it would cost to provide the equivalent of a local school in communities throughout Shetland.
I appreciate the dilemma of tight budgets but times have been hard in the past. For example, in the early 20th century, the head teacher of Gott School had to ask the school board’s permission to buy a blackboard duster and yet the school was producing excellent students. One such student, the late Lollie Graham, always reminded me that, when faced with adversity, “This too will pass”. It was sound advice and councillors would do well to heed it. Future councillors will not easily be able to repair the socio-economic disaster caused by these planned school closures.
Education should be seen as the foundation of any society and councillors must strive to keep Shetland’s educational provision intact and to improve upon it.
Retired head teacher