By Adrian Darbyshire
Councillors have approved a decision to mothball Fetlar Primary School on a temporary basis, as it currently has no children.
Children’s services director Helen Budge said the pupil roll fell to zero in May and there were no young people in the catchment area that would be able to come into the school in the next academic year.
She told Shetland Islands Council’s education and families committee that talks had been in place with Fetlar Community Council who recognised that the island didn’t have any young children currently.
The school had been mothballed previously, so this was “not a new concept for them”, she said.
The committee’s decision means Fetlar School joins two others – Skerries and Papa Stour – in being mothballed temporarily.
Mrs Budge said two members of staff were affected who the directorate would like to see move to a different school.
She also asked councillors to approve a policy for the future mothballing of schools.
She said where a potential school roll fell to perhaps less than five, then a proposal to mothball would be brought to the committee for approval.
But Shetland Central councillor Moraig Lyall said there should be an equally rigorous process to “quickly un-mothball” a school, so that it would not effectively be closed permanently.
“We need to respond when a family moves into the area,” she said.
“If we are going to take six months to a year then the opportunity will pass.”
Mrs Budge said she would expect there to be a timetable of six months to reopen the school should demand for provision return.
Councillors approved the temporary mothballing of Fetlar Primary School.
They also agreed to give the director delegated authority to mothball any school on a temporary basis where there are no children, but agreed an amendment that there should be a process in place to reinstate a mothballed school.