I was at the Scalloway school last Wednesday morning to attend a fund-raising coffee morning organised by secondary one pupils.
The kids had done a fantastic job – they’d grown plants, made fancies, Christmas cards, Christmas decorations, calendars and goodness knows what else, to raise money for their school.
A school, class and effort to be proud of. However, while I was admiring their hand-made efforts, the teachers were being informed of the Full Council’s decision to close the secondary department. What a disappointment.
There are a number of things that rile me about the decision, the main one being the lack of honesty, transparency and professionalism by councillors and the education department.
We have been told and told again throughout the Blueprint for Education consultation period that the council was seeking a model that best benefits our young people, and that the process had nothing to do with cost cutting. How’s that for a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Well done to Bill Manson at the last consultation meeting for being the first person (that I’m aware of) to be brave enough to stick his head above the parapet and admit that costs must be cut and are a substantial factor.
However, to get back to the coffee morning, while enjoying a cup of tea and a mince pie sold to me by one of the pupils, I glanced around the secondary pupils on their break, and up the corridors that lead to the secondary classrooms.
What a deserted ghost town it will become when those pupils are removed. It’s a large building. What will become of it? Let me guess – they don’t know yet?
Of course they know. You don’t empty half a school that will continue to be heated, lit, maintained and staffed without knowing what you’re going to do with it. Hamnavoe and Tingwall primaries beware – there may be a wolf near you.
I have no gripe against the standard of education at the Anderson High School. I was taught there, and came out with a good education and the grades to prove it. I understand the need to cut costs, and also understand that it may seem like an indulgence to have a junior high sited so close to the Anderson High School. But what doesn’t add up is this; pupils have an exceptional standard of education at Scalloway Junior High School, and their attainment levels are higher than those at the Anderson High School.
The school offers an experience that is not nor cannot be replicated at a large high school. Their art department is outstanding, their technical subjects such as woodworking are first class, their science department is inspiring. Their links with industry are established and supported.
All of this, plus the sense of community within the school promotes aims of the Curriculum for Excellence with excellence. Pupils become the responsible citizens they are taught to be.
The objectives of the Curriculum for Excellence are not just buzz words, they are real – they are already happening at Scalloway.
There is no educational benefit in moving the pupils. Worse than that, there appears to be no long-term education plan, this appears to be a short-sighted cost cutting exercise. Our only hope now is that the Scottish government recognises this.
We parents and carers are intelligent and reasonable human beings. We do know we can’t have everything on a plate. We do understand the issues. And I for one am fed up of being treated like a mushroom – kept in the dark and fed dirt.
Why can’t we just have some openness and honesty to allow a proper discussion to take place? We might then have ended up with an education model to be proud of, or at very least one we can understand, along with an education department we can have confidence in and trust.
I have no faith left in the powers that be. Councillors generally appear to be addressing their own agendas rather than those of their constituents, the education department seems only concerned with a quick fix in the current financial climate, and ensuring the jumbo AHS goes ahead (therein lies another story).
Pupils will continue to be educated to a good standard. Of that there is no doubt. But what a loss. What a sad day for all.