We need an educational masterplan

The Yule editorial of the New Shetlander 1967 – at a time when the population of Shetland was much lower – discussed the recent introduction of comprehensive education.

Commenting on the decision to retain junior high schools in the rural areas, it said: “The Education Committee wisely decided against the establishment in Lerwick of one all-through comprehensive school for all children whether from the whole county or the mainland alone. Such a step would have had grave consequences for rural Shetland involving as it would the closure of all secondary schools in country districts with Lerwick as the educational terminus for all the Shetland children. The decision to create junior high schools in selected rural centres retains both the comprehensive principle and the rural secondary schools with all that they mean as focal points in our country communities.” (My italics.)

The current Blueprint for Education Proposals are more about centralisation than cost savings. We still don’t have a clear idea what the Anderson High School will look like in this redesign because it hasn’t been considered in the blueprint. “Business as usual” but larger appears to be the only option on the table for the AHS.

The proposed closure of Scalloway School appears to tinker with the problem of saving some money in the absence of an overall vision for Shetland’s future education. The blueprint, in my opinion, lacks a coherent strategy and doesn’t put something better in the place of what we have. It certainly does not consider the broader socio-economic future of Shetland as a whole. Until we have a clear educational masterplan to work within we shouldn’t be hacking away at the parts of the system that are working so well.

I would urge councillors to consider the whole picture for our children’s future education, including the role the AHS plays in the redesign. Otherwise I fear we are heading towards that Lerwick educational terminus and a Shetland centralised almost completely in Lerwick.

Jim Sutherland


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