As with many parents of children in Shetland, I am astonished at the council’s new proposals for education in our islands.
Previous councils have fought hard to achieve a new Anderson High School, which has not yet lifted a bit of turf, and again they are speaking about closing schools outwith Lerwick and feeding into an inadequate Anderson High School with poor catering and dining space, already cramped social areas, dated buildings and a poor, untrustworthy heating system.
Centralising secondary education is not the answer. The Anderson High School has excellent attainment at Higher level, but could this be because of the percentage of children who are coming from rural schools with an outstanding level of secondary education, with no major transitions? Where the pupil has had a sense of identity and been valued in a smaller educational setting? Encouraged to blossom in their home environment into a well rounded individual? Ready, at higher level, to learn in a mature and settled way?
All we hear is the “cost” of education, but maybe it is the higher levels that need to be looked at. Not the cost of education but the cost before a child ever gets taught. Head teachers get paid a good wage, so let them take their responsibility that comes with the job and have them directly answerable to the director of children’s services. Cut out the middle jobs, for example why do we need three quality improvement officers below the quality improvement manager? This is just an example of where the level of staff in higher paid jobs really needs to be looked at in the short term before closing our school which would be a devastating blow to any rural community in Shetland and is permanent.
Our junior high schools should be prized possessions, which we will fight hard to retain. It is the backbone of the high standard of education in Shetland. Please think hard SIC before making a detrimental decision for our bairns and communities while you sit in offices lining your pockets. Don’t take away from the solid foundations which education sits on to save a few pennies. Take time to reflect that many other councils do not have the reserves we have and maybe we should be dipping further into them to save the important things in life.