Of course Scotty van der Tol, writing in last week’s Readers’ Views, is right. Shamefully we were not as engaged in the Scalloway closure debate as we should have been.
A determined and unified campaign, then, by all of Shetland’s junior high schools and their respective rural areas would have put pressure on the education department to rethink its blinkered, bulldozer approach to redesigning the delivery of education throughout the islands. United we stand, divided we fall!
The junior high schools are gems of educational excellence and are providing for Shetland, young people who are more than adequately placed to compete in an increasingly difficult global market-place. Ultimately it is they, not windmills, who are the future revenue stream that will keep these islands solvent.
Yes, it is not cheap to attain this high standard of achievement in a remote island setting like ours, with its unique geography and conditions. But is it really useful to compare pupil “production” figures with mainland Scotland, with its comparatively large concentrations of young people in urban and suburban locations?
This is not to deny the harsh economic reality we now face, but there are other ways forward that will modify the junior high system over time, rather than destroy it in one fell swoop, with a model that is untried and untested in the peculiar context which is Shetland.
“Moving teaching and not children”, for example, creates a paradigm to explore different ways of deploying staff and the much more creative use of already established school’s ICT – in itself a rapidly developing field. We are not being complacent; change needs to be made. But please not this draconian model that is the Refresh the Blueprint.
The logo for Curriculum for Excellence on the Education Scotland’s Parentzone website shows a heart composed of different coloured CforS buzzwords and phrases. Shining out boldly from the centre is the phrase “My Family”. To one side of this heart is the admirably aspirational slogan: “Be at the heart of your child’s learning”.
Again I ask, how does confining young children to a bus for well over two hours a day, or sending them off to board in Lerwick at 11 or 12 years old, enable the family – or community – to be at the heart of a child’s learning?
Aith Junior High School