Shetland MSP Tavish Scott is calling on the Scottish government to explain the reasoning behind its unpopular decision to ratify the closure of Scalloway School’s secondary department.
Mr Scott said he felt “desperately sorry” for pupils, parents and teachers in the community, who he felt had made an “entirely reasonable and well argued case” for keeping the school open.
On Friday education minister Mike Russell approved the SIC’s plans to shut the secondary department at the end of the summer term.
Many in the village have reacted with dismay to news of the closure, with parent council vice-chairwoman Karen Eunson saying the community was left “devastated” by the announcement.
Mr Scott said: “I am puzzled that the education minister hasn’t set out in more detail the basis of his closure decision. Scalloway deserves a full explanation after nearly two months of waiting since the government called in the council’s initial decision.”
The decision was called in by the government back in January because of doubts over when the new Anderson High School is to be built. Mr Scott pointed out that no new information has subsequently come to light since then.
“I will be pressing the education minister to write a rather full account of himself for local people,” he continued. “There was no mention of the Anderson High School. Yet the uncertainty over when a new AHS will begin construction was the minister’s reason for calling in the decision.
“I’m not aware of any new information on this. Nor are Scalloway parents who’ve contacted me. So, at the very least, we deserve a full explanation from the Scottish Government over why they’ve allowed Scalloway’s Junior High School to close.”
Mr Russell has recently faced criticism over his involvement in planned closures in Argyll and Bute, where he is standing as a candidate in May’s elections.
In a statement which appears difficult to reconcile with his decision on Scalloway, the minister earlier this month criticised Argyll and Bute Council for appearing “hell-bent on closing good schools”. He said there was a “better way forward” which did not involve “the wholesale destruction of high-performing and much-valued schools”.