Events in London and other major cities across the UK over the previous weeks by the student populace in relation to the proposed rises in tuition fees and educational cuts by the coalition government may appear far away from Shetland, but sadly for the pupils, parents and teachers of Scalloway Junior High School they have been brought sharply home.
The vote to close Scalloway secondary department is again a further example of the SIC railroading through ill-thought policies to the detriment of the Shetland public on a large scale and thus it represents yet another gross and reckless abuse of power by council members.
I was a pupil at Scalloway from 1994 as a primary one pupil until the end of secondary four and I can say without doubt the education I received at the junior high went a long way to helping me achieve my goal of entering university. However in the interests of not appearing to be biased I can also say that I had a fantastic education at the Anderson High School.
Education is however much more about experience than examination grades, something which has recently become apparent in Scottish education with the implementation of the Curriculum for Excellence.
Curriculum for Excellence wishes to build confident individuals, successful learners, effective contributors and responsible citizens. It also focuses on the life and ethos of a school and its community and nobody can argue that in a community such as Scalloway this is not profound.
I remember the ethos and spirit at Scalloway school well – the sports day, the closing ceremonies, local drama productions, opening displays to the community and more. Furthermore have not the pupils of Scalloway Junior High School shown that in their determination and courage to democratically fight for a school which they believe in that they embody Curriculum for Excellence as a school and as a community?
What will be the effect on the confident individuals entering their final standard grade year who will have to join classes with students in a subject such as modern studies who have perhaps studied different units to their peers? What provisions have been thought out for such students, or is it simply more important that the secondary department should be closed to cut down on monetary issues which have been created through SIC recklessness and negligence in the first instance?
Yes, perhaps the Scalloway secondary department should be closed and indeed others. That question, however, is not for now. It is for the future and for when a new fully equipped and capable high school is built for all the communities in Shetland – the logical method of an education overhaul.
The momentum has not been lost from this fight. If it has not already been started or considered then people should come together to petition the Scottish Parliament itself to try halt this shambolic process – I do not advocate staging a sit-in or smashing windows at the Town Hall, something tells me it would have little impact regardless.
It makes me truly sick to the core when I think of all the money which was lost over the “Clarkgate” affair, not to mention others, which could have potentially kept a truly exceptional school and community alive. In the words of the student protestors: education RIP.
James Arthur Johnson
Law with European Legal Studies undergraduate
The University of Aberdeen,