Concocted by urbanites (Robert Sutherland)

On 12th October 2012 I wrote a letter deploring the SIC’s then intention to close the Whalsay secondary school. On Tuesday night I attended a public meeting in Whalsay to discuss options to this ridiculous proposal.

At an excellently attended, and conducted, meeting, the floor put forward compelling and reasoned arguments against the latest offer from the SIC.

This means that all pupils will mandatorily, at the end of third year, be made to decamp to the Anderson High School in Lerwick. The overriding reason for this was put forward by the SIC representatives as being the Curriculum For Excellence (CFE).

This appears to be an exercise in academia concocted by urbanites which may well work in urban and mainland areas. It is ridiculous to apply it to island groups such as Shetland where schools are separated by stretches of sea and the vagaries of some of the wildest weather in the UK.
Surely the education and families committee must be at loggerheads with itself regarding this issue. There must be some form of choice involved in a child’s educational progression. If the children are transferred to Lerwick and cannot cope they will be returned home with some vague promise of finding them something to do? I felt ashamed for the representative who stated this.

It may well be that the brightest children may be least disposed to being away from family support. This proposal will blight the further education of any child not conforming to this Orwellian edict. How will these nonconformists be weeded out?

Will there be a consultative body which will decide if a child is to be sent into the educational wilderness?

Everyone knows the real reason is financial. This is not open to debate.

Let the choice be left to the children and families concerned, and stop this duplicitous “consultation”. The system at present works well and is not broken, so leave it as it is.

Robert Sutherland


Add Your Comment
  • Johan Adamson

    • October 1st, 2014 14:07

    I dont think there is any real difference between CfE and standard grades. The school leaving age is still 16, so there is no sense in taking children from Whalsay or any other JH for one year. After they are 16 they might well go to Lerwick to attend college or do 5th and 6th year, but that will be their choice, and I hope there is a hostel place for them or a good ferry service, whatever they choose, but let them finish what they started at Whalsay. If a broader range of subjects are required then let them join lerwick classes via the internet, or bring a teacher in once a week. It is about money. I hope they stop this now and try to save some. They are ignoring the will of the community and even the expert they consulted didnt think this was wise.

  • John Tulloch

    • October 1st, 2014 14:07

    I was under the impression that the Scottish Education minister Mike Russell MSP had told Mike MacKenzie MSP and Jean Urquhart MSP that the so-called “Curriculum for Excellence” does not require the closure of junior highs?

    Mr MacKenzie wrote (“Opinion: an alternative approach to education”, S/N 21/7/14)

    “A further myth that seems to persist is that Education Scotland are forcing the SIC into these proposals and have issued an edict that the S4 model for junior secondaries is not compatible with curriculum for excellence. This item was top of the agenda at a recent meeting Jean Urquhart and myself had with education minister Michael Russell, who confirmed that this was absolutely not the case. Education Scotland are not forcing the SIC into these reforms.””

    Every country person who wants to save their local school must sign the petition of “no confidence in the SIC”, available in local shops and online, at

  • Albie Redshaw

    • October 1st, 2014 14:19

    Well said, common sence must prevail. Finance should not be the deciding factor. If so what if we give the monies direct to the school heads to look after the budget in total and get rid of some of the expense of Hayfield house?.

  • John Tulloch

    • October 1st, 2014 14:19

    What about the embarrassing debacle of Shetland’s relative cost per pupil being inflated by 40percent and that false figure being used to justify closing Shetland’s pre-eminently vital rural service, the schools?

    How did that happen?

    Why did that happen?

    How can we be sure there will be no recurrence?

    Why has there been no explanation?

    Given that there are clear issues of governance and value for money in an area of such major public concern, why are Audit Scotland not looking into this?

    Does it take a member of the public to raise a formal complaint, before anything is done?


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