Two pieces of Shetland’s educational jigsaw are progressing well, elected members have heard.
Ongoing work on the new Anderson High School has been praised by one councillor with a wealth of experience in the construction industry.
Meanwhile, “virtual academies” run as part of the Shetland Learning Partnership have proved popular with youngsters seeking vocational experience.
West Side councillor and qualified architect, Frank Robertson, said work on the AHS – the council’s flagship project being run by Morrison Construction – is of an “extremely high standard”.
“This will be my 40th year in the construction industry, and it is well managed and particularly conscientious of safety measures,” he told fellow members of today’s education and families meeting.
“I think we’re going to have a very impressive building when it is completed.”
His comments came after an update during the meeting by director of children’s services, Helen Budge, who highlighted a second large “tower crane” which has been brought in to help in the £55.75 million school and hall of residence.
Morrison’s are busily working on the second floor of the new school, with work ongoing on the walls and columns despite the difficult weather over January.
Plans are also taking shape to begin on the outer “skin” of the building.
Meanwhile, the delta-shaped ground slab of the pupils’ accommodation block is in place, and the steel frame for that building is beginning to take shape.
“At the moment we feel that is progressing as we would like to see it,” said Mrs Budge.
Members also heard youngsters taking part in the Shetland Learning Partnership were benefiting greatly from the experience.
The so-called virtual learning academies were established as a way of offering school pupils new ways to progress. The academies have been designed to give youngsters practical experience before they reach school-leaving age.
Employers have been getting on board to help give senior pupils the skills they will need in the workplace.
Mrs Budge said 11 youngsters had chosen to do an engineering course, while two were studying in health and social care.
She added a third course, in built environment, was being added to the curriculum, and had been included in an options booklet.
“Pupils are enjoying it and finding it beneficial. One parent said to me that her boy would not have stayed on at school had he had just an academic course.”
She added the learning partnership was due to be featured in a Holyrood publication on education.
Chairwoman Vaila Wishart told the committee the learning partnership was something the authority could be rightly proud of.
“I think it’s one of the developments that we can be really pleased about. It’s quite advanced and the rest of the country don’t necessarily have the same opportunities to offer young people.”