31st March 2020
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School closure proposals – reports to be published

The prospect of school closures has once again emerged, with consultation reports on Mid Yell and Whalsay set to be published this week.

But the reports will recommend no changes be made, which should pave the way for a five-year moratorium on closures.

A large group of Whalsay residents got to gether to spell out CURE on the isle's Harbison Park. Photo: Ivan Reid

A large group of Whalsay residents got to gether to spell out CURE on the isle’s Harbison Park. Photo: Ivan Reid

It follows a decision last year to bring an end to rationalisation plans in Whalsay and Yell.

However, parents in those communities argued finishing the consultation should pave the way for a five-year break before the question of any closures can be raised again.

As a result, councillors agreed to go ahead and publish the consultation reports.

The documents will be published by the SIC on Thursday, education and families committee chairwoman, Vaila Wishart, said the recommendation would be “to do nothing”.

Councillors will consider the reports at a special education and families committee meeting on 9th June. A final decision will be made by the full council on the same day.


The recommendation remains the same, so nothing has changed – except there will be a moratorium kicking in. VAILA WISHART

“Last year in January or February the council decided to halt consultation for Whalsay and Yell,” said Ms Wishart.

“In May 2015 the SIC agreed to finish the process and publish the consultation report with a recommendation to do nothing, and that is what will be published on Thursday.

“The recommendation remains the same, so nothing has changed – except there will be a moratorium kicking in.”

Joint chairwoman of Mid Yell parent council, Karen Hannay, said: “My hope is that the apparent consensus around leaving the Whalsay and Yell schools as they are will be confirmed.

“It was clear from the consultation process that this would be the desire of the communities on both islands and beyond.

“We’ve called for the publication of the report as part of the legal process governing school closures to ensure that the consultation could not restart immediately and we might get some respite from the constant threat of closure.”

Her comments came after the council posted a notice confirming that reports on the future of Mid Yell and Whalsay schools were due to be published in two days.

They examine views on either closing the buildings or making them S1-S3 schools instead.

The consultation reports will be available at www.shetland.gov.uk/education

Copies will be available for inspection at Hayfield House, the affected schools and the library in Lerwick.

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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