Share |
The truths they don't want you to read....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

School closures

I hope Fiona Hyslop enjoys her visit to Lionel Secondary tomorrow, as the following is the recommendation going to a special meeting of the Education Committee on Monday:

DaliburghCLOSURE 2008
BaybleCLOSURE 2008
Sgoil nan Loch
PaibleCLOSURE 2009
ShawbostCLOSURE 2010
LionelCLOSURE 2012
BackCLOSURE 2013


AND, as if that wasn't enough:

"That further reports be submitted to the Comhairle as further consideration for the closure of primary schools are proposed in accordance with the criteria that no primary pupil should be required to travel on home to school transport for more than 30 minutes to and from school; and that there is adequate capacity in the proposed receiving school"

The reasons being given are:
  • The proposed new 3-18 curriculum and its implications
  • The need to release and redirect the financial resources required to fund the proportion of the cost of the Western Isles Schools Project which falls to the Comhairle.
  • The continuing decline in the school rolls. In 2006/07 the total P7 roll was 50% higher than the total P1 roll.
  • The generally tightening financial settlements. As rolls fall total funding falls in proportion.
The full report is available here. Read it and weep for the future of our community.

* 23/8/07: A Council spokesman said, Daliburgh is not on the final list - I have an early draft of the report, and how the hell did I get my hands on it? This list seems to have been lifted and copied by all the media, keeping the unnamed Council spokesman (Nigel) quite busy.


Anonymous said...


Craigston has been under threat for some time, and our MP has made it worse by not putting his children to the local school.

Anonymous said...

A sensible business decision, but a horendous indicator of our rapidly declining population. If the closures are stopped, how is the Comhairle to make ends meet?

Is the PFI the cause of this?

I bet you are glad you are out of it, Angus.

Anonymous said...

I bet you are glad you are out of it, Angus.
3:09 PM '

perhaps Angus is glad he managed to shirk the responsibility of a decision thats waiting to be made for several years now!

Angus said...

The decision should have been taken years ago, and the information to support the decision was requested on a number of occasions.

It couldn't come forward because the impact of the PFI on the new schools on the entire scheme was fundamental to making this decision.

Not having ever been one to ever shirk a decision, gt's comments are misplaced.

Anonymous said...

So it's all Angus' fault? I never remember him being on the education committee and when did these closures come before the Comhairle in the last 7 years? You are just trying to find a reason to blame Angus for something, you are a very sad person.
If you had any sense you would see how bad this decision is for our Islands and particularly our youth.

Anonymous said...

And AA / ABM said.........
AWOL yet again.

Anonymous said...

Fiona Hyslop repeatedly promised to stop the closure of rural schools whilst she was in opposition. Does this still hold true, and will the Council be funded to keep empty schools open?

Anonymous said...

Just heard Absent Allan on BBC RnG. Donald Morrison tied him up in knots and spat him out. He was asked twice why John Swinney refused more money for the 5 new schools and he refused to answer. Yet he has the audacity to say that he will back all Junior Secondary school closures. (I wonder what two schools he is visiting today with the Education Minister. Surely not Shawbost and Lional.)

I wonder what he thinks of the SNP council in Edinburgh then closing 20 odd schools. No doubt Absent Allan and Anyone But Macneil will want a public inquiry and a referendum on the school closures. No doubt they will also be telling all of us about the letters they have been sending regarding this issue. (If letters that have been sent to the council recently have anything to go with they should purchase a spell and grammar check.)

Anonymous said...

I heard the most ludicrous press release on Isles FM this morning from the SNP. Does anyone have a transcript?

The SNP Policy now seems to be -
* that schools shouldn't close
* the Council should be forced to spend lots of money on empty schools
* find money from everywhere else to fund the new PFI schools
* undermine it's own business case for the PFI project by not having the requisite number of pupils in each
* despite being told what to do, it's the Councils decision, so don't expect any money

If Mr Allan went really to a single teacher school, then that's the best reason to close them.

Angus said...

Reacting to the news today [Wednesday] that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar wil take a decision on Monday about proceeding with a consultation over the future of eleven island schools, Isles MSP Alasdair Allan commented: “As someone who went to a one-teacher primary school myself, I know the importance of a school to a rural community. My very strong instinct is that schools should only close if there are sound educational reasons to do so.

“And in the Western Isles, all the evidence is that the rural schools, not least those with secondary one and two pupils, are operating to an exceptionaly high educational standard. That, I believe, is something worth keeping.

“I would urge people to take an active part in the consultation process and call on the Comhairle to make the consultation a full and lengthy one. Tomorrow I will be visiting Shawbost and Lionel Schools, examples, I believe of the vital role that junior secondaries continue to have in the islands. I am now writing to all the affected schools offering to meet with staff and parents, many of whom have already been contacting me today to express concern about these plans.”

Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil added: “The islands' rural schools have a formidable educational record, and one which is worth defending. I welcome the fact that there is now an opportunity now for consultation on the proposals presently before the Comhairle, and I know that the community will not be shy in making their feelings known.
“As a former teacher, I am not convinced that any educational case has been made for closing the junior secondaries, and I would urge communities of all affected schools to make their feelings known.”

Anonymous said...

look at the self-interest of each of the Councillors, making special pleading for THEIR community school. Most of these schools were built for no good educational reason, but to pander to whoever was Chair of Education/Convener/shouted loudest at the time.

I hope the majority of the Councillors take a sensible decision and don't let the tears of a few cloud their view.

Kudos to Morag Munro for having the guts to bring this forward.

Anonymous said...

Personally I don't think it is healthy for children to attend one teacher schools. Part of the growing up / learning process is the ability to mix with others of the same age but from different backgrounds. This is not achieved in the small rural schools and as long as children don't have a long commute or have to stay away from home, these closures are sensible.
Also, where is the Council going to get the extra funds to keep these schools open? AA may want a "lengthy" consultation process, that is just because he doesn't want any nasty decisions made during his first four years so that he stands a chance to be re-elected.
Why don't he and ABM go into the Council and discuss their budgets and plans for the next four years and do some prioritisation. The SNP don't seem to be able to make any difficult decisions at the moment that may lose them votes. This is going to come back and bite them when the pot runs dry.

Anonymous said...

I think that the Council should just bite the bullet and close the Gaelic Medium streams as well. There isn't enough demand for them, as you will see when the Gazette publish the P1 listings, and it is a complete waste of scarce resources. How can this expense be justified when English language schools with more pupils are closing?

Anonymous said...

angus 3.46 are you saying that this decision could have been made in the last Comhairle or are you saying that you did not have enough info then? Do you think the report you have linked contains enough info?

anon 7.30 you could probably bring some decent argument to the debate but you insist on insulting people by distorting their names (e.g. Alas Noreason or Claim ahDonuthin'). Would you rather be a Sun journo or a quality journo?

Here is the answer:
Keep all schools open and upgrade 1-2 yr schools to 1-3 yr schools

Provide a perfect dual carriageway from Castlebay to Ness (extensions to Vatersay and Uig/Berneray to follow)

Forget any chance of renewable energy - we are a dependent culture.

Ban birth control ( 6 years from now the problem will seem insignificant)

Bring in Bon Appetit meals and we will soon see the age balance change!

Angus said...

The policy decisions that were necessary on schools should have been in front of the Comhairle a long time ago, but the schools PFI project muddied the waters and meant that clean decisions were impossible.

I don't think that the report provides enough information, BUT 20 Councillors attended the seminar on schools two weeks ago where they will have got more information. In addition there will be a presentation on the day to give more background.

Personally, I'd find it difficult to take a decision purely on the report, but I do agree that rationalisation of provision is necessary. As it is being driven by the PFI project I don't think the whole package hangs together as being the best for the Western Isles for the next 30 years. I think the Comhairle is being boxed into a series of unsatisfactory choices that will not work as hoped.