School closures could be put on the back-burner with some councillors easing off from the idea of rushing to reconfigure the school estate.
The vice chairman of the education and families committee, George Smith, today called for a policy forum to be held early next year to discuss the future of secondary departments in the isles.
Members were told levels of required savings had dropped thanks to the cuts that have already been made. That led Mr Smith to call for key discussions to focus more on the benefit any changes could bring to education.
He said the council had placed “huge demands” on its staff in recent years. They had to cope, he said, with “competing priorities” such as the new Anderson High School, the Shetland Learning Partnership and other initiatives.
He said a way forward needed to be found with parent councils.
“I think we need to give urgent consideration, including the timescale, of the school’s reconfiguration. I would suggest a starting point should be a policy forum in the new year.”
Meanwhile, details over moves to offer pupils new ways to progress towards their chosen careers through the Shetland Learning Partnership were revealed.
“Virtual learning academies” will run to help give youngsters practical experience before they reach school-leaving age.
The council aims to run courses in care and engineering from next year. Employers are said to be getting on board to help give pupils the skills they will need in the workplace. The vocational experience will be offered first to S5 pupils.
Chairwoman of education and families, Vaila Wishart, said: “It’s a very exciting development. It will give young people more opportunities to get involved in the world of work. Hopefully any certificates they take in their school years will count towards apprenticeships.”