Bressay primary: SIC to launch consultation over closure

The council’s education department is preparing to carry out statutory consultation on the possible closure of Bressay Primary School following the dramatic fall in pupil numbers.

Around 30 people were given the news at a public meeting in Bressay Public Hall last night.

The meeting was called after it emerged only six children across the primary school age-range are expected to attend classes in the isle from August.

That represents only 40 per cent of the children in the isle who could attend the school. The majority of youngsters are taken to either of the primary schools in Lerwick.

However last night it emerged an additional two families anticipate taking their children out of Bressay to give them a chance to learn among a wider group of peers.

It means potentially only two youngsters will remain in the Bressay school after the summer term. So far no parents have opted to send their younger children to the nursery next year.

Ten years ago up to 40 children attended the school.

Director of children’s services, Helen Budge, told concerned audience members: “We find ourselves in a position of saying we’re getting to the stage where we feel it’s a better educational experience for those young folk that are left in Bressay to come to another school.”

The news means a report will go to the SIC’s education and families committee in September.

Ideas drawn from last night’s meeting will also be put forward to the Bressay Community Council.

Education officials may also make an approach to parent councils to ascertain why children are not sent to Bressay.

An analysis of placing requests made by parents will also be carried out.

Should councillors give consultation approval, the school could close at the end of next year’s summer term.

But the threatened closure was regarded by many as merely a symptom of the wider problems Bressay is facing.

Some highlighted the recent cuts to the ferry service and a dearth in young families coming to the isles as key reasons behind the possible closure.

“Ferries are a fundamental reason why young people have left Bressay,” said one audience member.

Grave concerns were raised that Bressay had been effectively dismissed as a “suburb” of Lerwick. There was strong feeling it was unfair to children as young as five on the ferry to be educated in the town.

• For full story, see this week’s Shetland Times.


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