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.
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.