School wrangle rumbles on despite council agreement

A fresh row has erupted over Wednesday’s decision on the future of schooling throughout Shetland, with a warning that the failure to follow a consultant’s recommendations could damage education and services run by other departments.

According to Lerwick south councillor Jonathan Wills, the SIC is committed to finding an extra £600,000, incurred by the decision to keep all Junior High Schools open till S2 level, from the existing education budget.

The extra cost of the compromise that was backed by all councillors bar Dr Wills, fellow Lerwick councillor Allan Wishart, education committee chairwoman Vaila Wishart and Shetland north councillor Drew Ratter, is in addition to £916,000 already identified as overspend if the council had pressed ahead with its consultant’s recommendation to axe Aith and Sandwick secondary departments in their entirity.

Dr Wills sent out a letter to his council colleagues and the media, to “correct and clarify” the council’s budgetary obligations and “confusing” statements by education vice-chairman George Smith on local radio. Mr Smith had moved the amended education resolution at Wednesday’s full council meeting, which calls for yet another report to give more detail on the “savings or shortfall required” and provide “a more definite understanding of the financial figures.”

SIC Councillor George Smith pic 1
Education vice-chairman George Smith.

Dr Wills writes: “To insist that the £1.56m will be found elsewhere, as the mover of the motion repeatedly said on Radio Shetland last evening, may cause unnecessary confusion among staff and the general public. That may be his opinion and his fond hope.

“It is not in accordance with council policy as it stands at present, which is that the shortfall in education savings will not be passed on in the form of reduced ferry runs, even higher charges for home care, even fewer refuse collections or even less road maintenance and snow-clearing.

“On the other hand, it is entirely possible that the money not saved on Wednesday may result in accelerated amalgamations of primary schools (one thinks of Dunrossness, Sandwick and Cunningsburgh, or Hamnavoe, Tingwall and Scalloway) and even fewer books, working computers and teaching materials for pupils in the three Lerwick schools, one of which, the AHS, serves the whole of Shetland.”

The earlier wording of the resolution had explicitly stated that the “shortfall on the £3.268 million savings target be found from a further examination of all Council budgets and consideration of the Council’s Reserve Policy.”

Mr Smith said that it was prudent and reasonable to completely re-examine the funding situation in light of a new educational policy being adopted.

“It would be foolhardy to look at one source of funds when the situation has changed. We should be prepared to look across all budgets. The money might well come from education, we just don’t know until we get the report,” he added.

But Dr Wills insists that departments which have already met their targets should not be penalised and that there is no option but to load the savings onto education, “until the full council decides otherwise” and that “the current financial policy, agreed unanimously only two months ago, remains in force.”

Mr Smith denied that the re-worded resolution conceded this point and that it had been re-worked in order to achieve unity within the council, which was “very important”.

“It is clear that Jonathan has a different view on life and in terms of what the council priorities should be. Thankfully most folk take a more broad viewpoint and are prepared to look at how council money is spent and not just just on one particular area.”

He said that it was also important to identify the reasons behind the apparent £3000-4000 difference in educational cost per pupil between Shetland and similar island authorities like Orkney and the Western Isles. That might, or might not disclose areas where additional savings could be made.


Add Your Comment
  • Johan Adamson

    • November 15th, 2013 19:31

    You cant fit Hamnavoe and Tingwall into Scalloway – too many bairns, there would be more than at Bells Brae, and what of Whiteness? Sandwick is not empty either. These are the biggest primary schools with lots of house building locally. This is scaremongering and setting community against community. And not very respectful of your colleagues and parents, teachers and bairns. But of course, you know best.

  • John K Smith

    • November 16th, 2013 6:38

    It is terrible that Jonathon Wills is scaremongering on schools outside Lerwick. George Smith did a good job on the compromise in the council this week; it may not be what everyone wanted but at least it is equal across Shetland schools. I see no reason why finance should not be found outside the schools budget to support this initiative.
    It is important that education professionals make sure Lerwick is not given unfair preferential treatment in any area.

    • Jonathan Wills

      • November 16th, 2013 10:30

      Not scaremongering, John, just pointing out what might well be the practical results of Wednesday’s vote. If other councillors want to put up charges or cut some other services, in order to pay £600,000 for a fudged half-way house that will deprive many country bairns of the opportunities they could have had in their first two years of secondary education at Brae and the AHS, that’s fine, but they’ll have to spell out exactly what they want to cut and be prepared to defend it.
      Meanwhile the AHS, which already has pupils from every Shetland council ward, will face shortages of teaching materials and books as a result of this foolish and confused decision. How five of the seven Lerwick councillors could vote for this, I fail to understand.

      • Sheila Tulloch

        • November 16th, 2013 12:19

        Johnathan how many points?! On Wednesday, how many times were the finances called in to question? The financial picture is changing all the time. Only this week, another long standing secondary teacher retires. Until you have an up to date ‘picture’, nobody knows if we actually Need to save the other £600k? And are you really bringing up the educational opportunities for rural children? The Parents are the ones standing up for keeping Their Own bairns in the rural schools – do you know best? Also, if AHS is ‘facing shortages’ of materials etc. that will include every other school, so stop trying to make out Lerwick will suffer above others! The democratic process played out, the vote was cast, you lost. So stop going on about it!

      • David McDowall

        • November 21st, 2013 11:29

        I noticed that Mr Wills remarked “Meanwhile the AHS, which already has pupils from every Shetland council ward, will face shortages of teaching materials and books as a result of this foolish and confused decision. How five of the seven Lerwick councillors could vote for this, I fail to understand.”

        I must admit that I find it telling that you cannot understand why people may choose to share the pain across all of Shetland as opposed to selectively target anyone who is not us.

  • ian tinkler

    • November 16th, 2013 9:05

    The single most important investment any community can make is in the education of its children. By comparison nothing else matters. That means simply all else in expenditure, be that arts projects, speculative wind farms, generous sickness pay to over indulged workers, if necessary have to be sacrificed for the sake of our children. As a matter of personal opinion, although a rounded education is hugely desirable, if funding is short, the STEM subjects must be given priority. There is certainly a place for a sixth form college based in Lerwick specialising in the STEM subjects. Sadly all are recent priorities appear to be in the Creative Industries. Creative Industries, that has to be the misnomer of all time!! If humanity and Shetland communities are to move forward, we must simply priories what is truly important truly of use and value for our own progress.

  • Johan Adamson

    • November 16th, 2013 11:15

    We shouldn’t rise to his bait, of course. Sour grapes. He lost, it was a half baked plan no one could stomach. He would rather the bairns suffered than take the money from somewhere else. How about outsourcing IT? Or cleaning? Or Finance? Sell the businesses and reduce the support staff. The decision will be called in anyway so no savings to count with the original plan.

    • Robert Duncan

      • November 18th, 2013 18:01

      This is a really dangerous mindset to maintain – that somebody offering valid opposition to the strategy is only doing so because hisbown preferred option wasn’t chosen. Mr Wills asks some very valid questions, and ot is worrying that suxh a large figure still needs to be found.

      • Johan Adamson

        • November 20th, 2013 9:46

        Sorry, only just noticed this comment. When I read the above, I did not think JW was asking questions. He was threatening us that because we didnt go for the flawed plan, we would lose primary schools.

  • John Anderson

    • November 16th, 2013 13:02

    To say that nothing else matters but education is ludicrous. Care services matter, and housing, economic development, and the roads we drive on and the ferries and buses we ride on. All services actually matter, and they have all taken a massive hit already. Further, the changes we are talking about do not damage education, they improve it. The anti-closure campaign has been damaged by the hysterical hyperbole about ‘children being torn from their families’, and wildly exaggerated ideas about bus journeys. The spite directed at ‘Lerwick’ schools – which actually serve a big proportion of rural bairns too – has also damaged the debate. If we are talking about equality of provision, most folk have realised that Lerwick’s cost per pupil is the lowest in Shetland. Some callers for ‘equality’ seems to want to drag everyone down even further, so we can continuing trying to offer a full secondary curriculum to handfuls of bairns rattling around in half-empty schools. It is not the good of the bairns that is being considered, it is the personal jealousies, prejudices and fears of the adults which is driving the campaign.

    • John Tulloch

      • November 16th, 2013 17:05


      Of all the services education IS the most important, it’s the foundation on which everything else is built. You and Jonathan want to build a fancy house with a wind turbine on top of it but you can’t afford it so you want to put more sand than cement into the foundations – great idea, boys!

      Of course, Lerwick’s “cost per pupil” is lower, for the same reason the Scottish average is lower and that isn’t a reason for attacking the service in the rural districts, otherwise, why not send them all to a hostel in Edinburgh?

      The consequences of causing services in rural districts to deteriorate will be that people leave them to move into town, depopulating the country places. Maybe you don’t care about that however it is yet another problem being needlessly created by ourselves which will have to be addressed with money in the future.

      So yes, let’s pay attention to economic development by helping places like Whalsay and Skerries become even more productive than they are now, as opposed to pulling them down by closing the schools and cutting ferry services.

      Jonathan can’t understand why five of seven Lerwick councillors voted for this. Well, Jonathan, maybe they took their blinkers off for a second?

  • ian tinkler

    • November 16th, 2013 15:07

    At the end of the day every future council run service depends on our children. Their education and industry are what shape our future and ultimately create the wealth to finance all services and developments. One must be very stupid not to see that. All services except education should be sacrificed and cut to the bone if necessary. Only the very selfish and self-serving could not see that. As for hyperbole, “bairns rattling around in half-empty schools. It is not the good of the bairns that is being considered, it is the personal jealousies, prejudices and fears of the adults which is driving the campaign.” talk about the pot calling the kettle black!!

  • Marina Thomason

    • November 16th, 2013 15:34

    Jonathan has spoken out to “correct and clarify” some information which he thought was confusing, so perhaps he can clarify a couple of things for me.

    Is it true that this summer there was a £100,000 contract awarded to a local building firm to re-harl and paint the AHS gym hall? If this is true which budget within the SIC did the money come from? Why are we spending this kind of sums of money on a building which will be obsolete in a couple of years time?

    I know you can’t speak for your colleague Councillor Robinson but since he does not appear to want to speak to me maybe you can help me. I have only emailed Gary Robinson twice but both times he has ignored me. Both times was to get clarity on what he had said, once on the radio and just recently in “Sounding Off” in the Shetland Times. His pupil figures were complete nonsense but it would seem it is okay to carry on misinforming the general public because he is a Councillor and political leader. The people of Shetland are being treated very shabbily in my opinion.

    Also, why did Gary Robinson vote for the motion at the Education and Families committee meeting in the morning, then a few short hours later change his mind. Why did he not vote for your amendment (the original motion) ?

    Finally, I would just like to say that after hearing that protestors at the Town Hall were being threatened by officers that the police would be called because an officer had had to use the members entrance instead of the front door it only further confirmed for me how far apart the worlds of officialdom and the ordinary folk of Shetland really are and no wonder I am hearing the word “Mafia” when people are speaking about the SIC.

    • fraser cluness

      • November 16th, 2013 17:50

      unless they make the old high school into a ‘new’ single primary school, which means they will need it

      • Marina Thomason

        • November 16th, 2013 21:24

        Which begs the question – why are they building a new high school if they intend to continue using the old one ?
        My understanding is that the condition of the AHS is classified as ‘C’ – poor, that presumably is why they are building a new one. I would imagine that to bring the old AHS to a good enough standard to use as a “super” primary would take a lot of the one thing we are being told we don’t have – money.

    • Jonathan Wills

      • November 16th, 2013 22:36

      So, Marina, would you prefer us to let a perfectly good games hall fall into decay? Now the council is being slagged off for taking care of public property, which I cannot imagine will be demolished when the new AHS is built.
      The idea of using the old AHS for a primary school, while we build the new primary school that Lerwick urgently needs, is a good one.
      As for Councillor Robinson, he can answer for himself.
      Peaceful protest is a right that I will always defend but it is not right to block the entrance to the Town Hall in an attempt to prevent councillors and their staff entering the building to conduct the business of democracy. I am glad to say that those who did block the entrance for a short time on Wednesday morning quickly saw sense and cleared the steps after being politely asked to do so. Had they not done so, it would have been entirely reasonable to ask the police to clear the way.
      While we were debating the issues in the council chamber, the crowd watching the video relay in the hall upstairs repeatedly showed their enthusiasm (or the lack of it) by drumming their feet on the floor. The resulting thunderous noise made it quite hard to hear the speakers and the chair. Some would describe this as intimidation. I think it underlines the need for a proper council chamber where the public and the councillors can be accommodated at the same time (although for most of the time the public do not bother to turn up for our meetings). Maybe we could hire Mareel or the museum for meetings?
      It would also be a good idea to broadcast all council meetings on the web, so voters can better appreciate the work the council does. I understand this is being considered by the powers that be.

      • Marina Thomason

        • November 17th, 2013 10:41

        I didn’t think that asking two questions was slagging anyone off, I was merely trying to establish the facts of the matter.

        If you are going to continue spending money on public buildings does this mean that you are going to maintain the old Mid Yell school? Or is it going to be demolished?

        A “super” primary school would have to be able to accommodate 720 pupils which is the total of bairns attending Bell’s Brae and Sound primary school. I personally wouldn’t want my bairns attending a school of that size at that age but to make things completely fair across Shetland S1 and S2 should also attend that school. There are 270 bairns in S1/2 at the AHS at the moment. That would free up space in the new AHS which will be operating almost at capacity as soon as it opens if it retains a S1-S6 model.

      • Brian Smith

        • November 17th, 2013 10:51

        Jonathan, surely the army would have been more appropriate.

  • fraser cluness

    • November 16th, 2013 23:13

    id make the high school the new primary school personally. this would save changing the zoning? as it would remain a school, which is what the site was intended to be used for. Knock down the bits thats done, rewire and replumb the bits where the building is fine, but needs refurbished etc. for example the special unit could easy be used as the new primary special unit if the rest of the school was there too. thats a saving!

    as the site is vacant ie no children there, then they could do what ever they wanted. if we can get (south) money for a new high school why should we not think about a new primary for lerwick too, in the long term?

    its not about the children thats in them now its about their children comming in 10-25 years time I’m thinking about. It’s a good site which would be a shame to just build more houses on, where the present primary school sites could easy be houses or something else in the distant future.

  • Dave Hambidge

    • November 17th, 2013 10:09

    I know I am a “way-outsider” (North Staffordshire) but spent most of my child-rearing (NO, not bearing) years (both mine now early 30’s) in rural Wiltshire and Lincolnshire. Similar distances between schools compared to Shetland but, obviously, very different travel access problems (no ferries etc).

    The problem of “busing” kids of all ages to school, primary to 6th form college, from hamlets up to 10-12 miles from the villages and smaller towns with facilities was just the same. How long (time and distance) to travel, change vehicles in dawn and dusk light, social mixing out-of-school hours in clubs etc, quality of teaching and learning environment, were the same as Shetland, (albeit the more distant isles have the problems in spades!!) and this was late 1980’s. The only choice for parents in the pre-internet stone age was take the local authority offer (with transport supplied) or you arrange and pay for transport to your school of choice. So the ex and I would drive 10 miles single trip 4-6 times daily to give our kids what we thought was the best. Two decades later and I really wonder if we did the right thing for them or us by ignoring the local option.

    THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCES BETWEEN me/us back then and the current Shetland dilemmas is (ignoring creative web education options)
    1 public cash is now squeezed “duck’s arse tight”,
    2 that local elected politicians were not career in government employees with all the perks that brings,
    3 not being voted back into office is now a very big deal for the elect.

    So, follow the Icelanders (not in fishing obviously) but in representative government, vote for candidates who will speak for their punters, get rid of the rest and start again. A full “all of the public” debate is feasible in communities of Shetland sizes and in traditional style the majority wins out.

    I am convinced from this distance that SIC are playing a dangerous brinkmanship game between the huge housing budget deficit (which only Holyrood or Westminster can solve) and the emotive education provision, knowing that Holyrood will not support any loss of local services in referendum year and will find the cash to keep the status quo. And please don’t say they are separate budgets; in the end it is all one central government large pot.

    Shetland is a unique place with some not so unique challenges. The residents must take charge of what they want and are willing to provide. UDI???

    Greetings from a fogbound middle-England on Sunday morning. End of rant. Over!

    • Johan Adamson

      • November 17th, 2013 14:18

      I would like to see more consultation. There was a couple of meetings on this, views were taken, but in the end the plan stayed as first mooted, they did it fast but was it effective? Maybe there would be no need for the hoards at council meetings if proper consultation took place. The nhs have the 100 group & others. Our SIC sticks with the out-moded ‘Im telling you its right so do it’ kind of thing, not listening. There is no plan, no vision for education. Its so higgledy piggledy, some go to AHS at 11, some now at 13, some at 16, Lerwick needs a new high and a new primary, there are great schools in the country they want to diminish. They try to model it on Orkney with two Highs but there are no more bairns or new school for Brae, or a hostel. The north isles & Whalsay are closer to Brae. Most people see the whole plan as to get more bairns (and budget) to Lerwick. How much sense is that?

      • Dave Hambidge

        • November 17th, 2013 16:42

        Remove the eduction facility from a community to so far away that hosteling is the only option is like enforcing “the dreaded private paid so called public school eduction” onto many teenagers in the rest of UK. Some do well, but many don’t and fail to get the grades modern careers demand. The parents see this and, in time, opt to move the kids and themselves to where good education is taking place and family life still possible; in my experience they rarely go back. Give it a couple of decades and the Isles will be the victims of a second “clearance” with the enforced loss of so much cultural and economic richness. (Drive through the Borders, you’ll see my point).

        Any answer has to start with elected official listening to those who pay them, the voters. If they don’t, vote them out; threaten their livelihood and see what happens. A mass refusal to pay council tax? I read like Wolfie… Power to the People


    • Johan Adamson

      • November 18th, 2013 9:44

      I used to live near Edinburgh and see lots of peerie bairns getting the train to Edinburgh and feel really sorry for them, having the same length of working day as me (thats why we live here). I also used to interview people for jobs and was less than impressed with the standard of some of the candidates who came from fee paying schools. But the parents feel they are doing the best for them. The parents need to be pro-active obviously, whatever school they choose.

  • ian tinkler

    • November 17th, 2013 12:12

    What is the point of spending £100,000 on a building soon to have no use? Jonathon. We have a perfectly good games hall at Clikimin. A few minutes by bus of a short walk away from AHS. Now I remember some idiot advocating using busses to transport children to save costs. I just wonder who had that bright idea. £100,000 on an obsolete , unnecessary and duplicated facility. Well done, Mr Wills, how nothing changes!!!.

  • Chris Mackie

    • November 17th, 2013 13:35

    I find it hard to respect an attitude that says you should spend on education to the detriment of everything else, and never cut that spending. That should surely be qualified by requiring best value spend on education (and on everything else). The spend should be on the right kind and quality of education, whereas the current campaign seems obsessed by where it is delivered.

    Your contributer who sneers at the ‘creative industries’ dismisses a whole swathe of school and college subjects and would narrow the development, choices and aspirations of our young people. That is a lot more damaging than cutting the number of venues in which the education is delivered.

  • ian tinkler

    • November 17th, 2013 15:59

    Creative Industries? Or the STEM industries, which is of more value and benefit to humanity? If we totally lost adult education in the former (Creative Industries) Creative Arts would continue as they always have in Shetland. Thriving on ingenuity and originality as the arts have done since time immemorial… If we lost the later we would still be suffering from smallpox and living in caves. Pity is investment in adult education is lacking in excellence in the STEM subjects in Shetland, “Millions spent on Creative Industries though, hard to see to what end! Not sneering at the ‘creative industries’ Mr Mackie, just wondering if what is created is of much true value. (advertising, architecture, art, crafts, design, fashion, film, music, performing arts, publishing, R&D, software, toys and games, TV and radio,) we could thrive well without being formally educated in the majority on this list, however, Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, without these, back to smallpox and living in caves. As a simple matter of fact most of the Creative Industries would not exist without the knowledge gained from STEM subjects… I simply feel we rather have are priorities wrong. Tell me a good science degree being taught on Shetland? Or for that matter any sciences or maths teaching available once outside High school.

  • Ian Tinkler

    • November 17th, 2013 17:44

    Food for thought. Creative Industries! A misnomer or perhaps not, just a contradiction in terms! Maybe using the word “Creative” as an adjective, abrogates the meaning of the noun that follows. Just a wind up, sorry Chris!!.

    • Bill Smale

      • November 18th, 2013 11:19

      It is interesting to note that debate on the way forward for Shetland education has got as far sooth as North Staffordshire. Perhaps our correspondent would like to enlighten us on some of the developments that have shaped education in his part of the world? In particular, the Middle School ‘experiment’ might help those blinkered by the great primary/secondary divide and the Sixth Form College model would go a long way towards avoiding the costly duplication between High Schools and FE.

      Unlike Fraser Cluness and Dr.Wills, I’m not sure the existing AHS site would make a suitable location for a mega primary for Lerwick – there are not that many young families in that part of town and access for buses would still be an issue. Do we really want to return to the days before Sound PS opened when over 800 youngsters were crammed into 1 institution? An early incarnation of the Blueprint rejected this model – something it got right in my view. Big is not beautiful for small people – and certainly multi-storey buildings are not ideal. It is not so long ago there was talk of a third primary school for Lerwick to meet the needs of housing developments towards the north of the town.

      A better use for the existing AHS would be as a Sixth Form College thus returning FE to its proper place in Gressy Loan and enabling the Games Hall and other good bits to be retained. The replacement AHS would only need to cater for S1-4 so could be considerably smaller and the savings used to build to a standard so that it can have a longer useful working life than its predecessor.

      Another possible use would be as a Council HQ complete with a proper debating chamber……

      • fraser cluness

        • November 18th, 2013 18:05

        sound school would make an excelent FE though? the AHS has 3 games halls which would be excelent for a new all lerwick primary, persuming they are ok structuarly, cant see the FE neading 3! The chirdren from the north of the town already get a bus to Bells Brae so it would make next to no difrence to stay on another 5 miunets, as with the Gulberwick children to SS. So moving the school to the AHS site should still be looked into. its a massive site where they can make new bigger classrooms then say in sound school, where you can hardly swing a cat.

      • Robert Duncan

        • November 18th, 2013 22:02

        Do Bell’s Brae kids get a bus? The proposal paper for the Bressay closure said there was only one pupil eligible for transport.

      • fraser cluness

        • November 19th, 2013 16:27

        The children from north Lerwick get a bus to BB and the Anderson, or they at least used to.

        When the high school comes just over the hill from the north of lerwick the secondaerys wont need their bus, as it would be walking distance- thats a saving!

  • Linda Tait

    • November 18th, 2013 12:51

    I do feel sorry for the council – they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. This was always going to be a hugely difficult decision to make, but NOT making it would store up even worse problems for the future. It’s ironic to hear people say “get rid of the lot of them” (councillors that is) – how many times have we heard that in the past? Would a “new lot” live up to your expectations any better? Probably not, as no-one has the magic wand that will cure Shetland’s financial woes. And let’s face it, part of the reason those financial woes exist is the indecision that has prevailed in the past when heads were stuck in the sand, fingers were stuck in ears, and sustainability meant enough lamb in the freezer for the next few years.
    No-one would wish bairns to suffer, but take a step back and think about what suffering actually means. It’s not having a long bus journey to school or having to board during the week, it’s being shot for daring to go to school in the first place.
    Several generations of Shetlanders went to Lerwick and boarded during the week. By doing so we mixed with people from other areas, made new (and lifelong) friends, developed more independence, and in most cases turned out pretty well.
    Survival of remote communities is not just about where bairns go to school, it’s about that next generation being equipped to keep the jobs and business opportunities there so they can come back. The more life experience they get, the more likely they are to be able to do so.

    • Johan Adamson

      • November 18th, 2013 13:57

      I have nothing bad to say about the hostel, but I would have hated being bussed and I wouldnt have handled it the same at 12. I agree that it made you independant, and go south. But hardly any of us have come back, only a handful out of a third year that started at 300. That has got more to do with graduate jobs though, and doing a degree that means you can come back, than whether or not you went to the hostel.

      The thing is though we are not a third world country, far from it, and there is no reason why we should bus bairns around when there are good local schools. We have to find a way to make this work. Start at the beginning, have a vision and a plan. The 6th form college idea is a good one. Sharing teachers and being more flexible was another. But will they be researched? Probably not.

      • John Tulloch

        • November 18th, 2013 16:26

        Another good comment, Johan, and I agree, Bill’s suggestion of a sixth form college is attractive, too.

      • Robert Duncan

        • November 18th, 2013 17:51

        What would “sixth form” mean in the context of the Scottish curriculum? I’m concerned that somebody up thread was talking about a split after S4, which I wouls not want to see in any of our schools. A Senior Phase sxhool as Dumfries and Galloway are building would be interesting, but I think we all need to bear in mind funding for the new Anderson was provided on the basis the new school would be a like-for-like replacement.

  • Robert Duncan

    • November 18th, 2013 17:55

    I thought this was a well written letter from Jonathan Wills and it’s important that there’s somebody asking these questions. The closure of primaries in the central area strikes me as a distinct possibility, despite others claiming it is just scaremongering and that Scalloway school could not hold the children. It could, especially once the primary moves knto the old secondary school. It’d just be hugely undesirable.

    • John Tulloch

      • November 18th, 2013 21:57

      It’s interesting that Jonathan sees the old AHS site at Bellevue as a temporary home for the Lerwick primaries, I wonder what he means to do with it when all the kids move out to the new primary school he’s planning to build?

    • Johan Adamson

      • November 19th, 2013 10:00

      For me personnally, a move to Scalloway from Tingwall would not be that unpalatable, we like wir peerie school but in practical terms wir bairns are either bussed 2 miles north or 4 south over flat ground. Its no big deal in comparison to other folks issues with travel, and it would give us more bairns in each year. But I still dont think they can fit us all in. There are 70 at Tingwall, 50 in hamnavoe, 104 in Scalloway and 81 in Whiteness. And bairns from further north would have more of an issue with travel. And by the way JW should be able to write. And if they went to a bigger primary, now that there is no JH in Scalloway, it would not be such a big shock to go to the AHS.

  • David Spence

    • November 18th, 2013 20:55

    If these cuts are due to this vile Tory Governments way of undermining state run services by forcing Councils to make drastic cuts in the serves they provide due to this Government slashing the budgets, then, sadly, they are winning.

    Yes, yes we have been spoon fed the bile of the previous Government borrowing too much……….but how come the government (Labour and Tories) could give the banks £142 billion? I would say it is more than likely banks’ who have caused the problem with the present financial situation, and how this government as well as Labour thought it best to give tax payers money to the biggest rooks in society, the banks. I would even bet that a large proportion of this money was to keep the financial side of London afloat.

    So, it is the perfect plan for this vile Tory Government to use as a means of cutting budgets to local authorities, undermining their ability to provide adequate services and to prepare the foundation for even worse private sector to takeover what is left of the state run services………and one could bet again that if this is the case, we’ll be a lot worse off……..private sector……..triple the cost for half the service.

    • Jonathan Wills

      • November 19th, 2013 18:43

      I’m afraid we can’t blame the Libber-Tories for the council cuts, at least not yet. The Scottish Government has shielded Shetland and other Scottish local authorities from Westminster’s worst, so far, but will not be able to do so for much longer.
      Our cuts are mainly home grown and largely due to a former council administration imagining that the stockmarket boom would go on for ever and that they could carry on funding about a third of the council’s runnings costs from selling stocks and shares. They seem to have been off sick on that day in primary school when the rest of us learned about compound interest. As a result, their successors are still having to sell about £50,000 worth of assets every day to balance the books. Obviously this cannot continue – hence the current pain and agony.
      I don’t actually advocate amalgamating the larger primary schools, although some smaller ones could be merged with few adverse effects and many beneficial ones; what I said was that this could be one of the options for saving money (£1.5m a year out of a £39m education budget) after the council last week rejected a carefully thought-out and costed plan to concentrate secondary education in Brae and Lerwick, with S1 and S2 classes continuing in Baltasound, Yell and Whalsay (for obvious geographical reasons).
      As for the AHS games hall, I think Mr Tinkler will find it very well used by the general public outside school hours. In any case it would be daft to let it decay. We might want to sell it so it ought to be kept in good condition.
      Using the old AHS to decant primary pupils while we built a new primary school for Lerwick would of course be only a temporary measure. In the longer term the site is unsuited for school use, which is one of many reasons why the full council voted in September 2009 to revert to the original site for the new school, at Clickimin, after wasting eight years and £5m designing for the Knab Road site.
      My suggestion that the old AHS could become the base for Shetland College and the educational section of Mareel was also rejected in 2009, when a famous casting vote decided that the Mareel ‘bling centre’ would go ahead at the North Ness (and very nice it is too, as you’d expect for some £14m). I still think further and higher education, perhaps with a hotel and backpackers hostel, would be the perfect use for the old AHS site and the students would bring more life back to the old town centre.

      • John Tulloch

        • November 19th, 2013 22:17

        Much of what you say here is reasonable, Jonathan, and there’s no doubt about why we are where we are. Your vision for Lerwick is fine, too, and I’m sure we would all aspire to it if we knew it wouldn’t be at the expense of the country communities.

        One major problem with the Lerwick vision is – according to Robert Duncan, that is – that the new Lerwick AHS Is being partly funded from SIC’s reserves, some of which money, arguably, should be spent helping country communities. OK, country kids are envisaged to attend the new high school however even with only S3/4 leaving there will be an immediate loss of people from the country places (kids and school staff) plus some indirect loss of employment. This will be felt immediately in, for example, the isles leisure centres who will inevitably lose a lot of business, shops and so on.

        Keeping it brief, it’s easy to envisage a train of events which will lead, inexorably, to depopulation and ageing demography in those places.

        Next, if Lerwick is to have a new primary school, where will the money for that come from? Presumably, the Scottish Government and the SIC’s reserves. Once again, some of that money should, arguably, rightly be spent developing rural locations.

        Then we are going to build a new higher/further education centre on the site of the old AHS and as before, that’s a fine idea but where will the money come from? The SG and SIC’s reserves perhaps?

        Now, unless Scottish ministers throw out the change already decided (I’m unsure whether that applies now the schools aren’t closing?), I don’t doubt for a minute that the forces pushing for closure of the junior highs will come back for another go at the earliest possible moment and that an attempt will be made to force the cuts on education to try and divide the opposition. Should that transpire and a renewed attempt to close the JHSs be successful then we will have wreaked even more serious damage on the country communities with the full intention of spending money which could have been spent helping rural development on building (forgive me) fancy new schools and colleges in Lerwick.

        The word “sustainable” has recently found its way into the lexicon of politicians’ and mandarins’ power words and has been used ad nauseam in the context of these education proposals so, wishing to maintain rapport with the “sustainableites”, I venture to suggest we need to establish “sustainable” country communities and that closing the JHSs in the name of a “sustainable” education system is thus not a “sustainable” argument.

  • Colin McKearney

    • November 19th, 2013 21:35

    If indeed the Coucil are having to sell this quantity of assets just to “balance” the books , it clearly shows that the council as a whole is vastly overstaffed and is spending far too much. Here are a few examples of blatant waste that are occurring NOW with THIS council , I know it maybe isn’t life changing , but these are just a few I know off happening in the last month or two.

    A man from Birmingham in a big pickup truck appears at the Scord quarry in Scalloway , booked into accommodation , ferry etc , all paid by the sic…… install a fire door , yes a fire door. This is well within the scope of even the more hapless joiner , How much did that lot cost ? Who ordered it ? which dept is responsible ? Last time I looked there were one or two perfectly good joiners knocking around. The guy couldn’t believe no one here could fit it. He was all done and dusted after a couple of hours and presumably stayed for his day or two….all at sic expense.

    Another Chap comes up from south to oil and grease all garage doors on council owned property , i.e quarries , leisure centres , care centres etc , most of which have their own handyperson. Last time I looked at an oil can it really didn’t look to be a difficult thing to work , a grease gun , marginally more so….I dare say there are one or two engineers around somewhere up here that could have done this work. This guy is up here for 2-3 weeks , at least once or twice a year….again who the hell authorises this when local labour could easily do the same job.

    Yet another fellow came up from Glasgow to check all council properties as mentioned above for legionnaires disease…even though its regularly checked by handypersons…..why is this needed , more wasteful expense.

    I think its time the council come clean with the local people and businesses and disclose just exactly how much work is farmed out to south firms needlessly. Above is probably just the tip of the iceberg………

  • Colin McKearney

    • November 19th, 2013 21:46

    And to Jonathan , What even the current proposals are , is at best a retrograde step , The Aith School is amongst the top performing Junior Highs in Scotland , our children have a top performing School to attend , well run , well managed and well attended , simply erecting a new school in lerwick isn’t going to improve their education , the travelling time alone puts them at a serious disadvantage.

    I think the sic as a whole needs to take a good hard look at itself , peerie drew said last week that the council aren’t there to support the rural economy , “we cant afford it” he bleated , well the rural area’s aren’t there to support an overweight , overstaffed sic , if cuts need to be made then reduce the ridiculous number of staff retained in non jobs which we all know exists.

    Maybe the team that were working “tirelessly” on the ill thought out and seriously flawed report on education could be laid off now , as presumably their job is over ?

    • fraser cluness

      • November 20th, 2013 7:50

      Just out of intrest anyone know how many non-lerwick residents actualy work for the council or trusts in Lerwick? The north and south road seems rather busy in the mornings and the evening ‘rush hours’. An hour commute to work is very normal on the mainland. We all deside where to live and we take all the non-mainities into account.
      I also thought ALL the shetland schools are of a VERY high standard, i find it quite distressing to see the slagging of of one school agenst the other going on just now. I get around quite a lot of them and i think they are all excellent.
      No matter what area you live in Scotland everyone thinks everything should be in their town, but things needs to be where the most people are. Aberdeen, Elgin, Inverness etc etc as apposed to in the middle of the countryside or in smaller villiges.

      • John Tulloch

        • November 20th, 2013 9:05

        Isn’t that a self-fulfilling prophecy, Fraser? The more work and facilities which accrue to a location, the more people need to go there and ultimately, move there to live which, in turn, leads to a greater need for more work and facilities. Continued neglect inevitably brings depopulation and ageing of the country communities.

        Why does the SIC need to have so much of its empire concentrated in Lerwick?

        In this day and age of high speed broadband and amazing digital communications why can’t they have more facilities in the country districts and people working from home. That would save money on offices and road maintenance, accidents and of course, the “sacred cow”, SIC’s “carbon footprint” – we’ve got to be “sustainable”, after all, have we not?

      • Johan Adamson

        • November 20th, 2013 9:25

        We are all having to commute to Lerwick as there are hardly any SIC jobs outside of Lerwick, and lots of the country factories etc have disappeared, and rural jobs will be fewer if rural schools are closed. There are even now less country road men and no registrars. It actually doesnt have to be this way – Orkney doesnt have the same traffic, there are more farms etc in the country.

        Why not make the new school a junior high for Lerwick? Make Brae back into the junior high. OK this is not like for like on a new school but gives Lerwick a new primary and school up to S4. Then all the bairns from all over attend the FE college for S5 and S6 at the present AHS site. Sorted. All junior highs continue to S4 with teachers working flexibly and some use of IT. Its not the same model as other countys but we could lead in better modelling for the CofE?

      • John Tulloch

        • November 20th, 2013 10:39

        Johan, that sounds like “a coarn o’ sense” to me. Well said.

      • Johan Adamson

        • November 20th, 2013 13:04

        Thank you John (and for all your kind comments)

        Hopefully worth investigating anyway

      • fraser cluness

        • November 20th, 2013 16:39

        Whos says you have to work for the council? It’s not up to the council to employ everyone. Usualy head offices of local councils or big businesss are in the main town of that ares. Highland council is in inverness, not dingwall. Grampian is in Aberdeen not Stonehaven. Moray council is in Elgin not Forres. ETC ETC. Its the way it works generaly. Head offices areusualy in the town where most of the workfoce is or others comute. the uk goveement is in London, not Blackpool. It’s the way things works. perhaps you could ask DITT, Hays, or other big employers to move to outside the town. I could second guess what they might say.

      • John Tulloch

        • November 20th, 2013 18:46


        The difference between DITT and SIC is that SIC is funded with public money, a significant amount of which comes from and should be spent in, country places. Firms such as DITT depend on SIC for a lot of their work which, as things stand, is virtually automatically located in Lerwick – see my comment above about a self-fulfilling prophecy.

        The Civil Service, like SIC, is funded with public money and was heavily centred on London until a decision was made to move to much less expensive accommodation in places like Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle, etc., to both take advantage of that and create employment opportunities in parts of the country remote from the centre, thus also bringing government closer to the people it serves.

        Argyll and Bute Council has major offices in Lochgilphead, Oban, Campbeltown, Dunoon and Helensburgh i.e. scattered into every corner of its vast, straggly area. This is done for the same reasons as the de-centralisation of the Civil Service, explained above.

        If it’s good enough for Argyll and Bute Council and the UK Civil Service, it’s good enough for SIC and they should get on with it, after all, they’re mumping and moaning enough about the Scottish Government centralising everything they can get their hands on so they could lead by example by de-centralising some SIC functions and relocating them in the country – Scalloway, Brae, Sandwick? Why not?

      • Fraser Cluness

        • November 21st, 2013 17:44

        So, what departments should/could move out of town? How much would the new building cost? By moving the office all staff would be entitled to earn millage allowences to the new site, how much will that cost? By moving a department, how accessable would it be for all, inc famililes, old and disabled? how easy would it be to get there? Staff moving between offices would cost in wasted time getting there and ofcourse millage too. We would be interested on how it would realy work in the real world.

      • John Tulloch

        • November 21st, 2013 22:30


        If you want a detailed answer I’m sure Johan and me could be persuaded to act as consultants on a detailed study for £800/day or so however I’ll give you a couple of “starters for ten”, for free. In the case of Argyll and Bute Council the headquarters, council chamber and roads are located in Lochgilphead, a village of about 2500 people.

        The Finance Dept is in Campbeltown, a larger town fifty miles away and the Planning Dept is in Helensburgh, about seventy miles from Lochgilphead and 120 miles from Campbeltown. The Education Dept. is in Oban, 38 miles from Lochgilphead, 90 miles from Campbeltown and 95 miles from Helensburgh…….need I go on?

        You suggest the people who move offices would have to be paid mileage. Other than for a limited period to allow them to move house if they wish, why? Are the people who commute from, say, Brae or Sandwick paid mileage to travel to Lerwick?

        Progressively, over a period of time, people working in the country offices will feel inclined to live there, possibly, because they’re locals who want to live there or new starts who simply want to live in the country, possibly, because of the outstanding results achieved in the country schools and thus, a virtuous chain of country districts become re-populated. The offices in town are closed and sold as offices or redeveloped and the council more than likely makes a profit on the accommodation. Hayfield, for example, could be redeveloped as a good quality hotel with the SIC raking in a lucrative rent once Education moves to Brae, Sandwick or Scalloway?

        There’s an empty building in Scalloway, after all, ready-made for open-plan offices?

        How “accessible”, Fraser, are the Lerwick offices for “all, inc families, old and disabled”
        to the two thirds plus of the population who don’t live in Lerwick?

  • ian tinkler

    • November 20th, 2013 8:50

    Johnathon Wills, to quote, “As for the AHS games hall, I think Mr Tinkler will find it very well used by the general public outside school hours. In any case it would be daft to let it decay. We might want to sell it so it ought to be kept in good condition.” Well Mr Wills, I thought the general public could use Clikimin outside school hours, just a saving £100,000. What is truly daft is spending this money on a duplicated and soon to become obsoleted facility. You state someone may buy this hall one day, now who in their right mind would want to by such a structure, when Lerwick has Clikimin and Sound Hall facilities already serve the public well? Hardly wise spending of such monies, rather typical of past councils, I quote you, “Our cuts are mainly home grown and largely due to a former council administration (overspending)” It is good to see you continuing the past traditions.

  • Jonathan Wills

    • November 20th, 2013 12:23

    Mr Tinkler keeps confusing the council’s money, which funds schools, with the Shetland Charitable Trust’s money, which funds many things, including the Clickimin Centre (through the Shetland Recreational Trust). It is not difficult to work this out if you can spare a moment from fulminating to actually check the facts.
    The fact is that there is a demand for community use of the AHS games hall as well as for Clickimin. Both are well patronised.
    I am sorry if this makes Mr Tinkler cross. No doubt he will find something else to be cross about tomorrow.

    • Johan Adamson

      • November 20th, 2013 13:09

      But it is all public money, and should be used responsibly, with an audit trail of how and why decisions are made; and some co-operation between public bodies so that things are not duplicated, to save money. And there are still council members of the SCT, so they should know what is going on in both camps.

  • ian tinkler

    • November 20th, 2013 17:14

    No confusion Jonathan, funds you manipulate from all sources, you just so squander. Shetland Charitable Trust, how many millions now to Viking Energy? How many hundreds of thousands to Mareel.? A now defunct Viking Energy, a near insolvent Mareel. Now £100.000 Council funds to a soon to be defunct games hall. Wherever these funds come from, you strive to waste, at least you are consistent in your actions, pity it has to be our Shetlanders funds you so waste. Just a bit ironic you blame former Councillors for the problems we have now. A bit hypercritical is that not.

    • Jonathan Wills

      • November 20th, 2013 19:44

      Am I the only one fed up to the back teeth with Mr Tinkler’s wild allegations? To take just one target of his furious, ignorant diatribes, Viking Energy is not “defunct”. It is very much alive, despite the efforts of the SS and Donald Trump. The charitable trust’s shares in Viking are now worth considerably more than we have invested in it. “Striving to waste”? Come off it.
      Thanks anyway to Mr Tinkler for spelling my name correctly, for once, but presumably he meant to say “hypocritical” rather than “hypercritical”. I am grateful for the compliment, for to be accused by Mr Tinkler of hypocrisy, and of “squandering” public funds, is a pleasure, as ever.

      • John Tulloch

        • November 20th, 2013 21:30

        And the relevance of this to the schools debate is………?

        There’s another thread running about the wind farm and Trump.

      • Shuard Manson

        • November 21st, 2013 2:12

        No du isna Johnathan. It disna matter what you do it will always be wrong.

  • ian tinkler

    • November 20th, 2013 23:12

    Wow, a little cross are we Jonathon. Never mind, my points seem to have rather hit home. Now just calm down, after all if I am so wrong why are you getting so wound up?


    • November 21st, 2013 1:00

    I, too, am fed up with Mr Tinkler’s wild allegations. However, he does occasionally hit the right target and force a response.
    I am very interested to hear that the trust’s shares in Viking are now worth “considerably more than we have invested in it”. Is this statement based upon an independent valuation or have we received a private offer for our shares? The last valuation that I recall, which was not independent, suggested our share was worth £57m, which seemed wildly optimistic at the time. If there really is someone out there prepared to pay, the Trust has an obligation to consider reducing its stake, to perhaps 30%, The Trust could use the profit to support rural education in Shetland, which Dr Wills seems hell-bent on destroying, wearing his other hat as a councillor.

    Alan Skinner
    New House

    • Allen Fraser

      • November 21st, 2013 18:19

      Who would buy shares in a windfarm company that has no generating licence, no sign of a connection to the national grid, and according to its own Company Chairman not viable? Maybe a bank who likes to say ‘yes’ to subprime mortgages? Or perhaps a bank with a drug-taking minister of religion in charge? The fact is that Shetland Charitable Trust’s so called ‘investment’ is toxic and unsalable at any price and will remain so.

  • Hugh Jamieson

    • November 21st, 2013 7:48

    Please leave Mr Tinkler alone -he’s giving me a couple of fillings next week at £200 plus each and a £525 crown – at that rate I don’t want him upset. Poor thing!!

  • Johan Adamson

    • November 21st, 2013 9:14

    Jonathan I thought you believed in freedom of speech? In debate? I have enjoyed Mr Tinklers comments of late and find them quite amusing. He fairly got you with the planning consent for Viking comment, I thought. Sometimes he is just missing putting LOL after it.

  • ian tinkler

    • November 21st, 2013 9:23

    About right on the cost of fillings Hugh, however crowns are from £600.00. On a different note Donald Trump and his speculative new golf course does rather less environmental damage (less than one tenth the area ) than the Speculative VE windfarm. Funny thing is Trump uses his own money, not ours, to further his fortune. Rather unlike the businessmen / councillors promoting VE. Your comments please Jonathon. Also sorry about my spelling, I am dyslexic, your criticisms of the same are most welcome and the most constructive part of your argument. Regarding relevance to schools debate, just exposing the double standards of some of those recommending school closures to save funds.

  • ian tinkler

    • November 21st, 2013 11:32

    Johan LOL, and Jonathan Wills, QED.

  • David Spence

    • November 21st, 2013 15:08

    I am wondering if Jonathon or Ian (Mr Tinkler) or anybody else who can shed light on the matter, if they can answer the question related, if the VE Project was up and running (but with any luck will not be…….but putting that aside) how much would Her Majesty’s Treasury charge for a rather thicker cable (Inter-Connector Cable) than a fibre-optic cable laying on the seabed from Shetland to mainland Scotland? As far as I am led to believe, HMT were wanting around £55,000 a year from Shetland Businesses for a fibre-optic cable between the islands and mainland Scotland. Quite rightly, Shetland businesses refused to pay such an unjust fee, hence the fibre-optic cable coming from the Faroes (I believe).

    I presume VE put this figure into their annual maintenance costs for the VE Project? If they did, what was this figure ? I would also expect this figure would be considerably more than £55,000 a year?

    It may seem a mute point or irrelevant, but such a cost would end up being paid for by the people of Shetland or the Charitable Trust and not Viking Energy itself. If this was the case, could the CT afford to pay VE this unjust cost put upon such a project? (I am curious to know on the basis the VE Project is up and running).

  • John Tulloch

    • November 21st, 2013 16:48

    There’s an interesting article in the Argyll online newspaper “For Argyll” about the report to the Scottish Government from the Rural Education Commission and government proposals flowing from that. COSLA are unhappy about it, apparently.

    Here’s a snippet from the article:

    “The Argyll Rural Schools Network [ARSN] affiliated to the Scottish Rural Schools Network and born out of the cataclysmic school closure wars in Argyll in 2010-11, says: ‘ARSN commends the Cabinet Secretary for implementing many of the Commission’s recommendations and believe they will provide a more honest dialogue between parents and local authorities. We look forward to a better standard of consultation with clear and accurate information, much of which has been lacking in the past. Clarification of the presumption against closure will ensure that authorities see closure as a last rather than first resort.

    ‘ARSN is delighted that educational benefit will remain the priority. This remains true to the original debates in parliament which attracted cross-party support. Given the considerable disadvantages of travel for young children – lost daylight play times, longer hours, detachment from community input, loss of access to after school activities – it is the very least authorities should offer.’

    SIC please note the sentence “Clarification of the presumption against closure will ensure that authorities see closure as a last rather than first resort.”

    There is also a proposal for a 5-year closure moratorium following a failed closure attempt, presumably, to prevent botched or “half-baked” proposals being repeatedly re-run in a kind of “war of attrition” to wear down communities’ resistance.

    Credit to the SG where credit is due.

  • ian tinkler

    • November 21st, 2013 16:49

    No cable funding even discussed as yet, has to be approved by Ofgem whom turned down similar to Western Isles. Cost approx. £ one billion at last guestimate! Salmond may be thinking of selling Shetland into prostitution to Norway, China or Trump (or all three) to cover this cost. Crown Commissioner’s charge, perhaps a few extra crowns and a palace or two.

  • Robert Duncan

    • November 21st, 2013 19:20

    I see a S5 and S6 school being trumpeted again up thread, why do you want this? It makes no sense to split the children’s Senior Phase like that.

    It’s all entirely unfeasible anyway as the cost required to build a new Junior High AND a new High School makes them completely out of the question.

    • John Tulloch

      • November 21st, 2013 23:03

      Robert, may I suggest you ask Jonathan Wills, he was the one who said a new primary school in Lerwick is essential and that once the decanted primary kids temporarily in the old AHS site move into their new primary school, he envisaged a new higher education/further education centre being built at Bellevue.

      Johan’s suggestion addressed all the issues while saving the building of a new primary school in Lerwick and I must repeat, I thought that was rather a good idea – junior highs as standard for all kids with the highers/college fraternity moving to a designed-for-purpose, integrated high school and college building where they can usefully develop the kind of cohesive relationship between the two envisaged by Ledingham.

    • Johan Adamson

      • November 22nd, 2013 9:21

      Im actually getting quite excited by the prospect of a junior high for Lerwick (LJH) and an FE college (Anderson Educational Institute or AEI). Say if you wanted to study Latin, for example, you could have one language teacher doing the classes in the FE college for S5/6 at the old AHS site and if anyone at the LJH wanted to (or was allowed to do) classes the teacher could go there to teach too, and any of the country schools could then VC into the lesson. There are tutors at the college who are great with the VC already. And Bells Brae does need replaced too. There’s your extra couple of hundred bairns you need for the new school.

    • Johan Adamson

      • November 22nd, 2013 9:26

      Why does it not make sense to split after age 16, after the nationals? Before the highers or apprenticeships?

      • Robert Duncan

        • November 24th, 2013 13:51

        The Curriculum for Excellence is clearly set out with a Senior Phase of S4-S6, in which pupils can start taking all manner of qualification level courses and/or vocational training. Inserting a superfluous split in the middle will simply cause a block in flexibility.

        Most notably, it would damage the prospect of a pupil successfully completing a two-year higher course, but I think it would also be damaging for the attitudes towards vocational courses; the Senior Phase can hopefully offer parity of reputation to those courses and academic Higher classes.

      • John Tulloch

        • November 24th, 2013 21:32


        The CfE, referring to the “Senior Phase”, also states “Each school will, of course, develop its own plans which reflect the needs of its individual learners.”

        There is also a lot of talk about “flexibility” which I have to say, I don’t see coming from you; it seems to be “all or nothing” for you, in a kind of pernickety, pedagogical way?

        For example, if it was thought sufficiently damaging to a young person’s education to be worth trailing them away from their home to Lerwick to start S4 then they should have the choice to do that or stay home for another year. For those intending to leave school at the end of S4 and not enter FE, it would serve no purpose to move to Lerwick at the end of S2 or even, S3.

        If the emphasis is on “flexibility” and “each school will, OF COURSE (my emphasis), develop its own plans” – as opposed to you and Jonathan Wills developing their plans and closing most of them down before they get the chance, then surely minor adjustments like these could be managed with ease.

        If not, I suggest the whole scheme is in big trouble from the start.

      • Johan Adamson

        • November 25th, 2013 9:08

        But unless I have missed something the school leaving age is still 16?

      • Robert Duncan

        • November 25th, 2013 12:38

        Mr Tulloch, my comments were in the context of this so-called “Lerwick JHS”. Thatthe rural schools have one model is not justification for the Anderson catchment area to have the same, even less so under your own comments about meeting learners’ individual needs.

        In the long term I would like a system that removes the ridiculous distinction people see between 16 year old school leavers and those wjo continie their academic education. I think it would be good for pupils to experience the Senior Phase school, rather than look at as something that is only for those with academic interests – an attitudeI found was pervasive at the JHS I attended. That goes hand in hand with the increased links between the college and scjools and would help if a pupil wanted a flexoble mixture – say Higher Mats alongside a joinery course.

      • John Tulloch

        • November 25th, 2013 13:16

        @Robert Duncan,

        Are you saying that you favour dragging schoolkids away from home in the isles so that they can experience the “Senior Phase” of the Curriculum for (Debatable) Excellence – I’m lead to believe it’s given a different title among teachers?

        At the moment it looks like you’re getting your way – with interest – as the country kids are supposed to be moving to Lerwick after S2?

        Depopulation of country districts will follow, in due course.

      • Johan Adamson

        • November 25th, 2013 13:27

        But Robert, if they are all at college, some doing highers after 16 and some on apprenticeships, all at the old AHS site, this is more possible rather than less?

      • Robert Duncan

        • November 25th, 2013 17:34

        Again, my comments here are in relation to the future provision users of this site have proposed for the Anderson catchment area. My views on the actual proposal are entirely distinct. Whilst my view of the Senior Phase has no doubt coloured my opinion of the S2 model to some extent, the main reason for my support* there is more efficient use of resources and a more viable system.

        I do not see how moving a year late is beneficial, nor do I accept the argument that they would be one campus – my comments do not apply to the physical building but the school community it hosts.

        I haven’t even touched upon my biggest criticism of this model, which is that it makes almost mo consideration for AHS feeder primaries outwith Lerwick (i.e. the remote isles and ALL of what was once the Scalloway catch, emt area

        *For want of a better term. “Accept” would be too weak, but I thought this was the best we could have hoped for in the current climate.

      • Johan Adamson

        • November 26th, 2013 9:21

        Robert can you run that past me again because I am not sure if you answered my point or not?

        As for those who attend Lerwick at 11, do I have to think of everything? Jeez, this is not my paid job! Fair isle should of course go to Sandwick or Lerwick for S1 and either re-open Scalloway JH for Whiteness, Tingwall, Trondra and Scalloway primary or they go to Lerwick. Foula and Papa Stour should go to Aith, or Lerwick if they really want to. Or they could continue with a primary teacher on the Isle to S4? No idea if this is possible or would be wanted.

  • ian tinkler

    • November 21st, 2013 21:49

    Jonathan Wills
    November 20th, 2013 19:44

    Am I the only one fed up to the back teeth with Mr Tinkler’s wild allegations? To take just one target of his furious, ignorant diatribes, Viking Energy is not “defunct”. It is very much alive, despite the efforts of the SS and Donald Trump. The charitable trust’s shares in Viking are now worth considerably more than we have invested in it. “Striving to waste”? Come off it. Please comment Shetland, Jonathan Wills ?

  • john irvine

    • November 21st, 2013 23:34

    So Jonathan says that the money invested in the “White Elephant” is now worth more than the SIC put in? what`s the man been smoking? such a statement goes to prove beyond all doubt that not only are the wool being pulled over naive eyes but also shows that Mr Wills and this council are not capable of making the correct decisions about anything.

    As we speak money is being poured down the VE drain and will never be seen again, any body with a basic grasp of numeracy could save the council millions, all you need to do is look at the payroll and wipe off all those over payed and unnecessary jobs, and there are many!

  • David Spence

    • November 22nd, 2013 0:12

    Thank you Ian for your response.

    I know it may appear to be irrelevant in relation to the subject at hand, but this project will affect the Council, the people of Shetland and ultimately the Charitable Trust and its performance towards other businesses within Shetland who will be denied the help of the CT due to this organisation literally putting all its eggs into the Viking Energy basket in the vain hope it will reap the benefits (according to the latest figures, including the Inter-Connector Cable) of a less than 1% of the total cost of the project……..what a fantastic return of your investment……..who on earth sanctioned investing in this highly, highly costly project……..obviously somebody who knows nothing about economics or accountancy or business for that matter……..or this is the impression.


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