Dark cloud over Whalsay (Robert Sandison)

The recent council decision to place Whalsay in a position for consultation on school closure is a sad state of affairs and what is even more tragic is to witness the dramatic effect on island families both young and old.

During the meeting of the Full Council on 20th September, councillors voted 12-7 against a motion by North Isles councillor Steven Coutts to remove Whalsay from the consultation. Their action ensured that the decision to retain Whalsay Junior High School would only be considered after a lengthy consultation and consequently they have placed this whole community in a state of shock.

If the powers that be in the town hall want to empty this island of its young families they have certainly taken the first drastic step. How many young families will opt to settle here in the present climate of uncertainty?

Whalsay must be granted the same equitable right to retain its junior high school as both Yell and Unst without bias or discrimination. These are life-changing decisions and councillors will be affecting the lives of a community, its people and how they develop well into the future.

Whalsay must not be left in a situation where the population have to waste their time and effort in fighting bureaucracy in a long drawn-out and expensive consultation. To suddenly place a dark cloud over the families of Whalsay with the prospect of dismantling a proven educational system which incorporates a value of choice by a system that incorporates the severing of families and family values by a method of bureaucratic force is a negative concept.

It was very disheartening when Mr Coutts did not get the support of his fellow councillors and for the councillors who voted 12-7 against perhaps they may contemplate with some serious soul searching. The totally unfair and discriminatory political decision to consult with regard to Whalsay was a bad decision and I urge councillors to reconsider the Whalsay situation at the next Full Council meeting.

Robert Sandison


Add Your Comment
  • Sylvia M Priest

    • October 22nd, 2012 14:21

    Well said Robert. As an Unst wife you have my full backing on this important decision on your island. There is absolutly no way whatsoever that your bairns could sustain travelling to and from Lerwick on a daily basis. I find it exhausting on the odd occasion – their education would undoubtedly suffer and the island way of life would be gone forever.

  • Hazel Spence

    • October 23rd, 2012 8:40

    You should invite all councillors who intend to vote on such a crital issue to spend a working week making the journey. If they have the right to vote on peoples future they should at least gather their facts instead of making empty, self opinionated, brainwashed by paperwork decisions.

  • Paula Goddard

    • October 23rd, 2012 10:55

    Here we go again . Fighting for our childrens rights to education . Why pick on a remote island ? Make the Councillors work for a week on Whalsay ,Catching buses ,not useing cars and making sure that they stick to a days regime ,fitting any activities into that time ,and doing at least an hours work when they get home .
    They are likely to end up being tired and tetchy , now get them to translate that down to the body and mind of an eleven year old plus .

  • johnmcphail

    • October 26th, 2012 9:31

    Never mind a week, the bairns will have to do this every year for the year, rain, wind, snow and ice. These decisions are being made by those who quite frankly haven’t a clue about how tiringnthese journeys are and how dangerous they can be. Clearly safety and impact on academic outcome are not the only issues being forgotten, family and community life which des tie in with those confident individuals, reponsible citizens and promote health are being equally sacrificed. A state of affairs which will also have the effect of devastating community life and vitality.

  • Eleanor Black

    • December 4th, 2012 20:54

    I did supply Learning Support(as it was called then) for 10 weeks in Whalsay, 2003. Absolutely well-run, superb school, high educational & ethical standards.Lovely, supportive parents, ditto entire community, dedicated management & staff. Delightful pupils.

  • Vivienne Rendall

    • December 5th, 2012 17:07

    Some time ago I suggested in the ‘Shetland Times’ that councillors should go by coach from Burravoe to Mid Yell to see the journey that young bairns would have to make if the Burravoe School was closed, as is frequently threatened. As far as I am aware they have not taken up my challenge.An 8-mile trip on a single-track road on dark icy mornings in the depths of winter does not bear thinking about.
    Vivienne Rendall,


Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to editorial@shetlandtimes.co.uk for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.