View from the midden (Gordon Dargie)

I read that councillors Gussie Angus and Jonathan Wills (The Shetland Times, 13th May) are going about with some figures about schools costs.

Not all of the figures, of course, only a few figures that seem to suit an unpleasant purpose of ganging up on one community after another. And so we are now being told that every pupil in Shetland has lost £21 because Skerries secondary school remains open.

But evidently it does not suit political purposes to say anything of the many council officials, the cost of any one of whom represents more, and often considerably more, than £21 for every pupil in Shetland, and “not just next year, but every year” as Jonathan puts it. Or perhaps the pair of them are just shocked into an untypical silence by the sheer scale of the cost of their bureaucracy.

But when Gussie states the education budget as £42.5million, he must know full well that millions never reach the schools and that as much is spent on central bureaucracy as he now says needs cut from the schools’ budgets.

This is less a case of what the schools service can do for the schools and more a case of expecting communities to lay down their schools to preserve the bureaucracy. And they have the effrontery to try to justify this with the curriculum for excellence – but that’s the fine view from the top of the midden.

And Gussie and Jonathan are respectable enough to put their names to their views. I see from your report that the anonymous Lerwick councillor is back and still bold with opinions, this time to give us all a “reality check”. Indeed. More in the midden than on it, that one.

Gordon Dargie


Add Your Comment
  • Elizabeth Johnson

    • May 16th, 2011 10:59

    Agree entirely with you Gordon. It would be interesting to know exactly how much is being saved from the actual education department budget in addition to the perceived potential savings through ruining communities. The perceived savings will not actually happen by closing the schools, as pointed out continually, as transportation will cost more and in the meantime our communities will have lost their mainstay and ability to attract new families. The reality check that is required is that the most rural areas struggle to survive as is and removal of important amenities and the fallout and subsequent job losses could be the last straw. Decisions will be made and unfortunately those making the decisions do not have to live with the consequences!

  • Marina Thomason

    • May 17th, 2011 19:56

    Correct me if I am wrong but from what I understand the 42.5 million pound figure bandied around by Schools Service and councillors alike is the gross amount spent on education. When the recharges are taken into account (money that is being charged to education from other SIC depts) the figure is 38 million pounds. Still a vast sum of money and when you consider how little money it takes to actually run small primary schools you do have to ask yourself where does it all go?


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