There is a downside (Mark Leslie)

I would like to extend my thanks to the committee set up to review the closures of the schools in Shetland.

Now, unfortunately for them my first sentence was not as sincere as it looked. Actually it was almost in the same fashion as they took to their task. All nice and sincere to hear, but doesn’t hold up to what it sounds like.

This past summer, my son had to leave the school in Voe along with another seven pupils. Now I know this number will look to most as too low to keep the school open and after all the consultations and number crunching, this is the same view taken by the SIC.

One of the arguments I heard was that it would benefit the pupils from small schools to be in larger classes where they would be able to interact better with their peers and to have better relationships with friends.

Well this all looks great on paper but there has to be a downside surely? I mean after all, no committee member asked the children themselves what they thought of the brainwave to kill communities by taking away schools and such.

I am sure my son would have been very vocal if he had been asked whether or not the school he loved going to was to be closed and for him to be moved elsewhere? No, the almighty pounds did the talking here and the people that really mattered, the children, were just an added inconvenience.Well, thank you SIC schools committee.

My son now goes to school in a bigger class and a bigger school as you desired and is finding it difficult, has low confidence issues as he has come from a place he was used to for five years and is finding it difficult to adapt.

I just wish that all the good work made by the Northmavine schools couldn’t have been replicated here in Voe and the school, which had adapted to cater for my whole family’s circumstances, had not been lost by the guerrilla tactics and threats by the “S£C”.

Mark Leslie


Add Your Comment
  • thomas leask

    • November 12th, 2014 13:49

    Well said Mark!

  • John Tulloch

    • November 12th, 2014 15:04

    I’m sorry to hear that and, sadly, it was a predictable outcome.

    I can well remember my early days at Bell’s Brae and I’d have to say, even as a fairly feisty “toonie” bairn, “no saint”, I didn’t care for it and it isn’t a wonderful memory.

    A few years on, older kids went to the “Old Infant School” in King Harald Street which was smaller and better, before going to the Central School for the last two years of primary education, where I was terrified to go to the toilet because bigger boys were, allegedly, catching smaller boys there, holding their heads in the pans and pulling the plug on them.

    So much for the educational benefits of bigger schools and mixing primary kids with secondaries!

    • Jack Brunton

      • November 14th, 2014 23:06

      Indeed John, I “well remember” some bloke called Noah building a boat. I see John’s posts frequently here aboots. Is there not enough business in Arrochar for him to introduce his proboscis into there aboots?

  • paula Goddard

    • November 12th, 2014 17:14

    How many other letters do we have to read like this??Children’s
    health and mental stability has ben out at risk by these silly decision’s, by the people who should have our communities well being in their hands .

  • Robert Duncan

    • November 13th, 2014 10:25

    Children were included in the consultation, and their views were all recorded. You can see the children’s views in the consultation report, as is still available online.

    Now, yes, there may be a case that those views were not given proper credence – reading that section of the report there are a large number of comments against the proposal. However, there are several comments from children that are in favour of the idea, and the majority seem keen on the idea of a larger peer group. Often the fears sound as though they have come straight from a parent.

    Very sorry to hear your son has struggled with the move and I would hope that the children making this move have been more closely monitored to help them settle. I would point out that bullying exists just as much in small schools, and is often worse due to leaving the child alienated from an entire peer group rather than a minority. I am aware of a case like that with a friend’s younger brother, at Olnafirth itself, not so many years ago. Bullying is unacceptable in any school and measures should always be taken to prevent and discourage it.

  • Louise Ward

    • November 14th, 2014 19:33

    I passed the Voe school on Wednesday and was struck by the sad sight of a school in darkness. It being winter I had been expecting to see a warm glow from the windows and to catch glimpses of the bairns at their lessons, instead it was completely devoid of life. As an Unst mother of two fighting the Baltasound senior closures it sickened me that this school and Skerries have been closed before the reprieve, I cannot begin to imagine how the parents of these schools must now be feeling, SIC’s turn around has come too late for them.

    Louise Ward


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