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

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Nicolson Institute problems

I've had nothing but negative comments about the school, or more accurately the education system in the Western Isles, since I raised the issues about the quality of education in the Nicolson.

I am now told, by someone who should know, that there is a major drugs problem in the school that is not being addressed by the teachers or management.  It is unclear whether that is due to their ignorance of the situation, or their unwillingness to tackle the principle principal offenders, or indeed whether it is being deliberately ignored in the hope it would go away.

Irrespective, there appear to be a smallish number of pupils with seemingly unlimited access to anything and everything, operating unfettered just below the surface.  Whilst their fellow pupils seem to aware of what is happening, there seems to be no restrictions or secrecy around their activities.

Thankfully, the vast majority of pupils seem to be unaffected by this.

Perhaps I am overstating the extent of the problem, but there clearly is a problem that needs to be dealt with.

167 comments:

Anonymous said...

I genuinely hope that this particular post is support by more than just rumors and hearsay.

Anonymous said...

...Thankfully, the vast majority of pupils seem to be unaffected by this.....


I sincerely hope that you're right. I fear, however, that you would find if you probed that many youngsters distinguish between 'soft' drugs and 'hard' drugs with the latter being a no-no but the former being - well, OK.

The school clearly has tremendous potential problems with this and other matters - as would any school of its size in 2010. What is not helpful is the general attitude that 'xxxxx doesn't happen on these islands.

Oh yes it does.

Anonymous said...

I think you and your correspondents should also consider the use of alcohol among school pupils - not necessarily during the school day but after hours and at weekends in a way that is likely to affect subsequent behaviour and achievement.

Anonymous said...

By the way.

It would do no harm to remind any pupils or parents who comment on this later on in the day (when they can access the blog) to be sure not to name names or allude to real or potentially identifiable persons. The blog is, of course, moderated but moderators don't always grasp what they might be letting through.

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to believe given that theres not enough dope on the island to roll one joint at present.

Booze is by far the biggest addiction to deal with on the islands (all age groups) and the wider uk. How many People does everyone reading this know has a drug problem? And how many people does everyone reading this post know with an alcahol problem? It affects all walks of life, all age groups and all levels of society.

And I dont smoke the stuff, but more than you think have a toke to unwind at the end of a shit day at work. Better than a half bottle.

If you get hooked on cannabis at worst you ruin your own life. Get hooked on booze and you tear your family to pieces.

Anonymous said...

Angus, if you were a teacher in this small community would you have the cojones to confront and if necessary report druggies to the police?

Anonymous said...

3.00

And there's the problem. Kids are minded to get 'out of it' on a Friday or Saturday night by any means possible. They tank up on cheap supermarket booze (obtained by who knows) and then top it up by a few cheapish pub cocktails - if they can get away with it - or partying with friends on a Friday or Saturday night with more booze and little 'additional extras'.

If any of you know local policemen, social workers or A&E nurses, ask them privately about the kids who come in of a night and whose parents could care less.

When I talk about 'kids' here, I'm talking about 12/13 year olds or slightly older. Anyone who lives in Stornoway or who wants to spend an hour or two down the Narrows on a Friday night knows what I mean. Youngsters staggering around, out of control, mindless. It will be a miracle (in this weather) if no-one is found dead in a back alley in the next few nights.


3.06

You don't need 'cojones' to report something. You just report it.

Anonymous said...

3:00 PM says:

"I find it hard to believe given that theres not enough dope on the island to roll one joint at present..."

Really?! There's enough cannabis distributed out of Berneray alone to keep a sizable number of Western Isles residents stoned for a long time.

It's been going on for many years now; open knowledge and previous police involvement show it's not lazy gossip. No idea how much leaf goes off the island and north to Harris then Lewis, but to think the islands are almost cannabis-free is naive in the extreme.

Anonymous said...

4.35


Indeed. And on a related note, I'm amazed that the electricity board haven't decided to work with the police to monitor consumption.

Anonymous said...

Bear in mind that I'm, not knocking all things. I had a most dear friend who got himself off a heroin addiction by locking himself in an upstairs bedroom with a weight and throwing the bedroom key into the garden bushes below.

I am, though, concerned about the kids. I see them most Friday and Saturday nights. Out of control, mindless, shouting, shrieking.

Could I ask how many unplanned pregnancies there are in these Islands ? It strikes me that most of the lassies that hit the streets on Friday nights haven't got a blithering clue what happens to them past 02.00. Say.

In my father's day, most of these young gentleman would have been taken to a quiet place on the moors and been asked to reappraise their cojones.

I guess brothers etc don't care so much these days.

Anonymous said...

Supermarket staff in Stornoway will tell you schoolkids as young as 14 go in there emboldened by certain tablets, and God knows what else, to try and get booze. That is not new. It happens every weekend.
Where are the parents? Usually senseless at home, having also been in there for cheap hooch along with the turkey twizzlers a couple of hours earlier.

Anonymous said...

Don't know about drugs, but from the time I was there, early to mid 2000s I had a very bad experience. Things like bullying especially for me and lack of discipline by some staff, low leadership amongst teachers, an uncaring attitude in general. For example, many people all going off to several places to smoke during breaks, known to everyone, even teachers walking past, nothing done.

I just got a sense of total disinterest from the people who run the school. I was somewhere else on the mainland before the niccy and they actually were prompt and efficient regarding day to day matters in the school. There is more to school than imbibing the knowledge of your subjects, they are preparing you for living your adult life, which requires things like instilling leadership and confidence.

It really set me out on the wrong foot in life.

Anonymous said...

4:35 PM In that case, I wonder if this video of the guy on the stretcher was taken while he was holidaying on Berneray? :-)

Anonymous said...

I can't believe the naievety of the person who said there was little drugs on the islands...going back 8 years to a job I was in, I saw enough going on I could have written a book. There are plenty drug dealers in Stornoway, sadly, but sweeping it under the carpet is not going to solve the problem.

Anonymous said...

"PRINCIPLE Offenders" Tisk Tisk Angus - the NICY surely taught you better spelling than that?

Angus said...

Anon 7:40 - I hang mi hed in shayme

Anonymous said...

I recall looking at the Nicolson playground in - maybe- 1983. And watching a drug deal going down.

People laughed at me at the time.

Anonymous said...

This is not new. When my kids were in school, they and their mates all knew who the dealers in school were and most of the kids new the prices as well. Maybe each school should have their very own special Spaniel for housekeeping.

Anonymous said...

Put the sniffer dog in and get all offenders expelled. Surely that would be policy. Then let's see the parents plead for their little angels,

Anonymous said...

So all the dope comes from Berneray.

Teenage Pregnancies happen after 2am.

Kids get stoned on Friday to get rid of the stresses for the week.

And in 1983 a 'drug deal' went down in the play ground. (BBC drama pending)

Wow - Kids will be kids is that what the general thread is here? Drugs are a part of society, an absolutely horrible part of society, but kids will be kids and will dabble in it be it at the World famous Niccy, Inverness, Mossside or Eton.

All I care about is that the School does it's very best for all the kids, the sporting facilities that the new school will have on it's door step will be amoungst the best anywhere, possibly the best. Management may need a rocket in the rear but if the scool provides an atmosphere where all kids can excell then maybe some other issues will fade away.

Maybe they'll have night classes in spelling for the likes of ourselves!

Anonymous said...

7.45-
Don't think I am naive, all Im saying is that the past couple of months weed is in short supply, a few of my mates partake and it made them REALLY ANGRY, for about 5 minutes. Then they just said oh well and carried on with their well paid jobs. No spouses, children, policemen or nurses battered in despair. Of course some people grow their own, in which case they'll be keeping it for themselves! As for other drugs, of course they are available. Its nothing new.

BUT......

Some people don't seem to get the point I was trying to make anyway- that alcahol is the most abused and damaging substance by a country mile.

I enjoy a night out, and in 15years of going out not once have I seen a serious incident that you could pin soley on drugs. Scrapping, domestic abuse, people pissing themsevles in pubs, vomitting on taxi drivers, verbally abusing police, lashing out at a&e staff, vandalism, racial abuse in one of our (brave) oriental or indian restaurants, all thanks to our taxable alcahol.

From your 12year old school kid doing it to be cool to your 70 year old free kirk elder sneaking a half bottle in the barn, we all know people who are ruining their lives because of it.

Chasing a few kids because they are having a joint won't stop them from it- it has gone on for a long long time. Just wait till they go to uni! Perhaps coming up with a decent plan to educate them on the social and health dangers associated with alcahol abuse may well prevent them in the future of becoming one of the dawn patrol or ruining their kids or familes lives. Or perhaps human nature being what it is some folk are destined to go off the road no matter what society or government tries to do to prevent it.
(3.00)

However perhaps a sniffy spaniel in the niccy once every now and then at random would deter kids from taking things in to school that they shouldn't, cheap and effective?

Grumpy Old Git said...

So, no-one know where the kids In Stornoway get the booze, do they?

They pay certain members of the 'dawn patrol' to get it for them, that's how.

Or their older brothers and sisters buy it for them. Glad that's sorted out.

Btw, the Stornoway police are getting really quite good at stopping members of both of the above groups for buying alcohol for minors where there's evidence of that.

Teenage pregnancies? You bet. The 'morning-after' pill flies off the shelves in WI Hospital most weekends, and quite rightly, too, given the alternative consequences.

My source for all of this? My teenagers and their friends.

Anonymous said...

Should the Council and police be targetting the shops and petrol stations (properly, no matter who they belong to), who sell alcohol to underagers or to known individuals who buy for underagers? They have the right to refuse a sale. Bring in a heavy hand and if its known that they break the law, then have the courage to remove the licence.

Anonymous said...

8'51

Well yes. But what are the parents doing ?

I have young girls lying/ smoosing etc on the street by me.

What do their parents imagine is happening when they don't come home of a time ?

Anonymous said...

Smoosing? Where do you live so I can find out what they're actually up to?

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
Put the sniffer dog in and get all offenders expelled. Surely that would be policy. Then let's see the parents plead for their little angels "

There are sniffer dogs at the bus park when the school buses come in and not once has there been anyone caught with drugs, i think this blog is ridiculous and untrue..most of the drug dealers on this island are aging between 20 - 60 year old and not once in all the years I have been in the nicolson have I heard of anyone being in possesion of drugs or a drug dealer in this school. The main issue to be addressed is under age drinking NOT drugs as this is not an issue. But the school can't do anything about drinking alcahol as it takes place out of school hours, shouldn't it be the police dealing with this matter? It is common knowledge to nearly everyone on this island that between the hours of 9 - 11 on a friday or saturday night there is A LOT of youngsters hanging around the town drunk, the police know about this and yet nothing is done.

Anonymous said...

I have seen the Spaniel sniffer dog at the school bus park on numerous occasions

Ciorstaidh MacIver, Vice Captain of The Nicolson Institute. said...

This blog is shocking.

Not shocking because of the major drug problem' but shocking that a councillor would post such an unjust smear on the island and its community, school and young people.

"I have had nothing but negative comments from the school."
From who? The HMI Inspectors who not weeks ago found no serious faults with the school? More likely local gossips and nay-sayers, content only in negatively attacking every council run organisation on the Islands.

"I am now told, by someone who should know"
Good source there...

"that there is a major drugs problem in the school"
The Nicolson Institute is a relatively small school, if there was a major drug problem, the students would know and we do not. To be perefctly frank, it is a ridiculous statement.

"It is unclear whether that is due to their ignorance of the situation, or their unwillingness..."
It rather difficult to be ignorarnt or fail to tackle a problem which does not exist.

"Perhaps I am overstating the extent of the problem"
Clearly.

As mentioned, I find it disgraceful that an island councillor finds it appropraite to speak so disrespectfully about a school which has always garnered a sterling reputation.

Regarding the 'quality of education', I as a pupil for four years now, have nothing negative to say. Not only is the teaching standard no worse than any other school, all the staff of the Nicolson Institute are a credit to the school and the community.

If the purpose of this blog was to offend and disrespect the pupils and staff of the Nicolson and foolishly regard substanceless gossip as fact, congratulations you have been successful.

Anonymous said...

Well, currently being in the school and reading this makes me angry. I and my cohorts are very surprised to hear about this 'drug problem'in our school.

Drug misuse, alcohol misuse, sex ed it's all taught to each pupil in the school. The awareness is there! Do you really know what goes on in the school, so where is your evidence...

Also is there nothing positive to be said about our school? Sporting, debating, academic...you name it and the school are up there at the top! We work our socks off to raise thousands of pounds for charities all throughout the year, more recently raising over £3000! Does that not mean anything to you? Does it not show how responsible and capable we are?

Good to see those who are meant to be encouraging youths to strive in life support and praise us, and it's nice that those who really are merits to the island being recognised. Not.

Anonymous said...

I have read your blog with growing horror I cant believe the rubbish you have written. We (the normal people of society) know what problems kids are going through. When I was their age the same things were going on except we didn't have the older generation trying to have us "hung, drawn and quartered." we all make mistakes and do things we shouldn't! What we need is, support to be their for the young ones, if and when they need us otherwise "butt out!" Maybe you should be looking into the unusually high number of young suicides in this area and whether it has anything to do with sad minded people putting their oar into their lives and how they should behave. We need to look after our youngsters, support them and help them and not chastise them all the time.

Ciorstaidh MacIver said...

Oops sorry FORMER councillor.
Must be the drugs messing with my mind...

Nicolson Student said...

Yeah!!!, this is a load of rubbish, there is no drugs problem in the school, yes there is a drug issue with the island, but in the school??? seriously? Any kids involved with drugs have either been thrown out, or left after fourth year. But still, there is no drugs problem in the Nicolson Institute

Yours sincerely
Student (W*H)

Anonymous said...

Two quick questions.

1. How come the four postings that say there is no drugs problem in the school - which contradicts what pupils have told me - all appeared within 16 minutes of each other?

2. Ciorstaidh: if your schooling is so great, why is your post littered with spelling and grammar mistakes? But, as you say, maybe it's the drugs...

Anonymous said...

8.58



Whoaahh there...... It's generally regarded as bad form - if not downright rude - to criticize other people's text like that on the internet - unless they aren't making themselves clear.

I rather think they were making themselves clear. Whether you may have disagreed with the post is an entirely different matter.

Anonymous said...

7:56pm
Your first and biggest mistake is that Mr. Nicolson is no longer a councillor and hasn't been for over 3 years.
I have also been told of the same things that Mr. Nicolson reports. I couldn't tell you whether it is from the same source but I know it is from someone who has first hand evidence. What I have been told concerns me enough to consider leaving the islands before my children reach secondary school age. I know of a local social worker who is also considering the same due to what they have witnessed first hand with their clients.
I see with my own eyes the children on the streets of Stornoway smoking, drinking and generally be anti social both during school hours and at weekends.
There are good children who do all the right things that children are expected to do and the reverse. The problem is that the balance is being tipped in the wrong direction and no-one seems to be doing anything about it.
Whoever you are, and you obviously have something to do with the school, instead of taking your 60 minutes lunch break tomorrow in blind oblivion, stand somewhere on Francis Street or Matheson Road and just observe the pupils of the Nicolson Institute and then weep................. or maybe take some action to do something about it..

Anonymous said...

Answer 1: Pupils discovered the blog and shared their disgust. Do they not have the same rights as any other citizen to stand their ground and voice their opinions?

Answer 2: Spelling is not the issue here- 'perefctly''ignorarnt', which was a typo not because of the schooling, making the point invalid

Stop nit picking.

Ciorstaidh MacIver said...

Two quick answers:

1. Another pupil who was not impressed with this blog posted a link on facebook which prompted us to sharing our views on this matter.

2. My apologies, in my hasty defense of my school, some typos occured, I hope it did not hinder anyone else's understanding of my comment. I hope my view was also noted as well as my spelling and grammar...

Anonymous said...

Also, pupils of what class, 1983?

Nicolson Institute Sixth Year said...

This post has angered me deeply. For somebody who is not involved in the school, and is not there on a daily basis, how dare they insinuate that there is any problem? As a pupil of the school I find this insulting. I am not aware of any problem in the Nicolson, and neither are any of my peers. I believe this is an unjust attack on the younger generation of our island. In every school across our country there will be people using drugs, but to describe this more specific to the Nicolson is incorrect. Although I do believe there is a problem with alcohol in the school which should be tackled.

Anonymous said...

Fleek's sake, Niccy kids have been sniffing, popping, drinking, smoking and shagging themselves silly for time immemorial. The island is no different to anywhere else in the UK and compared to some private school kids I know things are probably much tamer. Anyway, it's good practice for going to college on the mainland where they'll be obliged to do it full-time.

Anonymous said...

As a former pupil of the Nicolson Institute, I feel quite insulted by this blog. As Ciorsdaidh has stated, the Nicolson is a strong school and I feel that my education far exceeded many of my former university friends and colleagues on the mainland.

You say you have "had nothing but negative comments about the school, or more accurately the education system in the Western Isles, since I raised the issues about the quality of education in the Nicolson.", well what does that say for the teachers and former pupils? Looking back on my time there (only a few of years ago) the teachers I had in the Nicolson were, on the whole the best I would ever want. They were encouraging, enthusiastic about their subject and wanted you to learn and I feel your blog is a discredit to them. And yes, before you ask, many of the teachers I am talking about still teach there. The Nicolson are known in the Highlands and Islands for their excellence in many aspects, from sport, to most recently winning the BT National Gaelic Debate in Edinburgh.
I wouldn't say that the school is just pleading ignorance to this issue, I don't think it can actually be as extensive as you are making out. Teens are renowned for making up stories, for telling white lies to impress their friends which I think is more likely to be the case and judging by your detailed sources, my explanation will be as good as yours.
I am glad however that you stated that it appears to be a "smallish number of pupils". So why then have you felt the need to publish this blog, tainting the reputations of over 1000 pupils? This is a time for UCAS applications, and many students in their final years will be applying to universities and colleges in order to further their careers. And in the case that lecturers and programme leaders read this blog (unlikely I know), you may have just ruined their chances of being accepted to university because you have just given the image that this is a druggie school and the comments following it suggesting that all the youths are alcoholic, hussy like wastes of spaces that wont amount to anything.
I admit there is a drink and a drug problem in the Western Isles. That is nothing new, it's a harbour town, they are renowned for having these issues, look at Campbelltown, Thurso, The Shetlands, all of these places have similarities to Stornoway in terms of size and location. I’m pretty sure things would have been fairly similar in your day.
Angus can I ask, when you were growing up, did you ever steal a nip of whiskey or a beer to take out with your friends? It is a fact of growing up that kids and teens will go through a phase of rebellion. I agree that some take it too far, but most of these people will learn from their mistakes and look back on their youth and realise they were pretty stupid, but this just adds to their experience in life. You only truly learn from your mistakes and the more you learn, the stronger you become. The same happens all over the country, in cities and in towns and further down the Western Isles, why should we be any different. The thing that gets so many youths is that they can be looked down on because they are from “an Island”, they just want to have the same experiences growing up as any other youths.
I'd like to thank that generation for encouraging the future generations so positively. Yes some youths have issues, the same could be said about the older generations. There will always be problems with drink and drugs, that is realistic, however you do not have to smear the reputations of innocent youths through it.

Anonymous said...

Part 1-

As a former pupil of the Nicolson Institute, I feel quite insulted by this blog. As Ciorsdaidh has stated, the Nicolson is a strong school and I feel that my education far exceeded many of my former university friends and colleagues on the mainland.
You say you have "had nothing but negative comments about the school, or more accurately the education system in the Western Isles", well what does that say for the teachers and former pupils? The teachers I had in the Nicolson were, on the whole the best I would ever want. They were encouraging, enthusiastic about their subject and wanted you to learn and I feel your blog is a discredit to them. And yes, many of my teachers still teach there. The Nicolson are known for their excellence in many aspects, from sport, to most recently winning the BT National Gaelic Debate in Edinburgh.
I wouldn't say that the school is just pleading ignorance to this issue, I don't think it can actually be as extensive as you are making out. Teens are renowned for making up stories, for telling white lies to impress their friends which I think is more likely to be the case and judging by your detailed sources, my explanation will be as good as yours.
I am glad however that you stated that it appears to be a "smallish number of pupils". So why then have you felt the need to publish this blog, tainting the reputations of over 1000 pupils? This is a time for UCAS applications, and many students in their final years will be applying to universities and colleges in order to further their careers. And in the case that programme leaders read this blog (unlikely I know), you may have just ruined their chances of being accepted to university because you have just given the image that this is a druggie school and the comments following it suggesting that the youths are alcoholic, hussy like wastes of spaces that wont amount to anything.

Anonymous said...

Part 2-

Yes, there is a drink and a drug problem in the WI. Nothing new. It's a harbour town and I’m pretty sure things would have been fairly similar in your day. When you were growing up, did you ever steal a nip of whiskey or a beer to take out with your friends? It is a fact of growing up that teens will go through a phase of rebellion. Some take it too far, but most of these people will learn from their mistakes and that’s how we gain experience.
The same happens all over the country, in cities and in towns and further down the Western Isles, why should we be any different. The thing that gets so many youths is that they can be looked down on because they are from “an Island”, they just want to have the same experiences growing up as any other youths.
I'd like to thank that generation for encouraging the future generations so positively. Yes some youths have issues, the same could be said about the older generations. There will always be problems with drink and drugs, that is realistic, however you do not have to smear the reputations of innocent youths through it.

Anonymous said...

There is NO drugs problem in the school. Angus Nicolson is wrong and blindly listening to common gossip. How dare he insult our school like this.

Steven said...

Two quick questions.

1. How come the four postings that say there is no drugs problem in the school - which contradicts what pupils have told me - all appeared within 16 minutes of each other?

2. Ciorstaidh: if your schooling is so great, why is your post littered with spelling and grammar mistakes? But, as you say, maybe it's the drugs...

8:58 PM

ONE Sir

we use such modern appliance as the internet to communicate with each other out of school and to organise activites such as Children in Need and Social's. so when a student found this it was posted and those like minded people who attend the Nicolson decided that we would not stand for this slander. The Nicolson is improving all the time. like all schools it has faults but these are worked on continuosly by the staff, who are under appreciated by those not in the Nicolson.

AND further your second point is a cheap shot, and aimed at getting a rise out of a student who delivered an argument that poked so manny holes through this article it is ludicrous. I know my english grammer and spelling is attrocius and i hope you enjoy reading it as it is.

Steven said...

to another Anonymous commentator on the issue of drinking

3.00

And there's the problem. Kids are minded to get 'out of it' on a Friday or Saturday night by any means possible. They tank up on cheap supermarket booze (obtained by who knows) and then top it up by a few cheapish pub cocktails - if they can get away with it - or partying with friends on a Friday or Saturday night with more booze and little 'additional extras'.

If any of you know local policemen, social workers or A&E nurses, ask them privately about the kids who come in of a night and whose parents could care less.

When I talk about 'kids' here, I'm talking about 12/13 year olds or slightly older. Anyone who lives in Stornoway or who wants to spend an hour or two down the Narrows on a Friday night knows what I mean. Youngsters staggering around, out of control, mindless. It will be a miracle (in this weather) if no-one is found dead in a back alley in the next few nights.

yes there are A MINORITY of students who do go out on a weekend binge. BUT i ask you what about when you were there age are you telling me that there was not a group of kids who would do the exact same. who broke the rules and smoked and slept with one another.
i think you will also find that the staff of all the Western Isles primarys and seconderies make it clearly plain what happens with unprotected sex. and information is regularly given out in guidence on the consequences. I think you will also find that the western isles do not have a statistacly high teenage pregnacny so reported by the bbc ( heres the link )

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/highlands_and_islands/8073335.stm

further if more adults were inclined to volunter and help youth organisations who are always in desperate need of more volunters there would be less inclanation of underage children going out and getting wasted. one such group as the scouts whos youth membership has more than doubled in the past year from under 100 to over 300. WHO also recived the fastest growing unit in Britain. so instead of complaning that the council does nothing to provide facilites for there children to do instead of drinking on a weekend get up and help your children by doing something more than shouting.

Anonymous said...

[Now this i cannot gaurntee is accurate as i can not find sufficent evidence online]

I even remmeber reading ( in back in the day or the gazette) how HRH The Prince of Wales one time while he was on holiday. was in a lewis pub drinking underage with lewis men.

so its all right for one and not for others can be clearly argued.

the basic princible is that this blog post is a pice of rubbish that holds no value and its only intended purpose it to slander the NI.

and now that its presance has been made aware to the student body im more than sure we will be checking regularly and commenting regularly on anything we find false.

Anonymous said...

Ciorstaidh, congratulations on knocking down your strawman argument.

Like all the best pupils form the Nicolson you'll go far; probably the Central Belt; a good degree; marriage; kids; and ocassion visits to the islands when you will bemoan the drop-off in the quality of education at the NI, and complain about the population decline.

I'm not sure where Angus suggested that the Nicolson was like some kind of Gaelic Trainspotting, but you well and truly demolished that argument.

In my day, the only people with less knowledge than teachers of the underground activities of the pupils were the prefects.

There is a small hardcore of drug users in the Nicolson. The problem is that some of them are also dealing and that's what new.

Anonymous said...

What a hysterical over-reaction to the original - and factually correct - blog posting, from what appears to be Tarquin, Jemima and the other 6th form prefects. To take a few points from the essays, of varying quality, written in these comments.

I am glad however that you stated that it appears to be a "smallish number of pupils". So why then have you felt the need to publish this blog, tainting the reputations of over 1000 pupils?

Fool. The first point negates the second. Angus didn't say over 1000 pupils had a drug problem; as you pointed out yourself, it's a smallish number of pupils.

This is a time for UCAS applications, and many students in their final years will be applying to universities and colleges in order to further their careers. And in the case that lecturers and programme leaders read this blog (unlikely I know), you may have just ruined their chances of being accepted to university because you have just given the image that this is a druggie school and the comments following it suggesting that all the youths are alcoholic, hussy like wastes of spaces that wont amount to anything.

Here in the (real) university and academic world, rather than the one constructed inside your head, it will make zero difference to your application if 'programme leaders read this blog'. Of which the chances are also as good as zero.

The fact is; there is a drugs problem at the Nic. As there is at many similar institutions on the mainland. And just because there is at the latter, doesn't make it more acceptable at the former.

If you want to believe that the Nic exists as some kind of utopian land of unicorns and rainbows where nothing bad possibly happens, then you are either deluded, being dishonest, or one of your classmates has slipped something not-quite-legal into your lunchtime ribena...

Anonymous said...

You can nitpick all you want about people nitpicking about the poor quality of writing in comments on here. It's relevant, whether you like it or not.

When I read, in just one comment alone:

- gaurntee
- sufficent
- remmeber
- princible
- pice of rubbish
- presance
- im more than sure

...then, yes, there is concern about the standard of education at the Nic. Not getting into drugs, being literate, having a good education; it's all connected.

The recent rash of comments on this blog post highlight not just a mini "It's all wonderful" campaign to whitewash drug issues at the Nic, but also the poor standards of literacy that some - not all, but some - pupils have.

Anonymous said...

There's a drugs problem, with a small number of pupils dealing, at the Nic. If you are unaware of this, then you aren't really fit to be an authoritative voice on the place.

Maybe the prefects/whiners/fairies/people of a delicate nature who hath protested too much on here, should take a read at the bottom of the home page before writing their latest mock-outrage:

I only reject the most extreme/offensive comments, so please expect a lot of robust language and comment. Sensitive souls should bugger off.

By reading this blog, you are agreeing to these terms and conditions and waiving your right to complain about any element of the content whatsoever.


So there you go.

Anonymous said...

What I have been told concerns me enough to consider leaving the islands before my children reach secondary school age. - Doesn't this person not think that their children will be more exposed to drugs on the mainland? Living up here is probably one of the safest places to bring up children.

Anonymous said...

I think it is good that the young people can get involved in the debates and their contribution is valuable. Certainly, I did not have such an opportunity when I attended over 5 years ago. Certainly, there is probably a drugs problem, but only among a very few pupils, which cannot be used to tar the brush of everyone.

The fact is that there are good and bad things about the school, as in any school. I did not have a good time and it certainly set me on the wrong foot in life. Terrible bullying, inattentive staff, too many 'cliques'. But I have tried to put that behind me and get on nonetheless. The ones that are on drugs will end up on the dole or in a crap job, the hard working pupils will go on to university and will have great lives.

Anonymous said...

its all fine and well saying theres a SMALL poplulation of the NI that take or use drugs but it is not the majority we are talking about a small group of people in a school of a thousand

I gaurntee if you place 1 thousand pople in one place there will be a group of people who have tried taken or are using drugs have smoked or have binge drinked

if you went to anywhere in glasgo edinburgh or london in any area the results will be the same.

you are labelling a hard working school as a den of debuchery and you condradicte yourself saying there is a major problem with it then saying its a small group

Anonymous said...

I accept that the spreading of malicious, baseless gossip is the stock-in-trade of this blog, but I find this particular post more corrosive than usual.

We are told in the original post (OP) that Angus has been informed by, ahem, “…someone who should know…” that there is a “major drugs problem in the school that is not being addressed by the teachers or management”. I assume, ahem “someone who should” took this information to the authorities. Perhaps to the school or perhaps more appropriately to the police, this being a “major drugs problem” after all?

Perhaps, ahem “someone who should know” has did this – I don’t know. From the OP we do know that, ahem “someone who should know” came to Angus the operator of a blog, well known for facilitating gossip.

I assume Angus, being a responsible citizen ascertained whether there were at least some grounds (perhaps even some evidence) for the concerns relayed to him by, ahem “someone who should know”. Angus would no doubt have immediately understood the gravity of the allegations – a “major drugs problem” in the shape of a drug-dealing criminal enterprise being conducted in the Nicolson Institute. Remember, we’re not talking about a joint or two here, according to the OP the pupil-dealers have “unlimited access to anything and everything”. (I’m not sure that the Medellín Cartel itself had “unlimited access to anything and everything"!!!). It gets worse, however. The information available to Angus also suggests the complicity of teachers and management who are unwilling to tackle the offenders and who deliberately ignore criminal activity. Pupils also seem to be aware of what is happening, but the dealers are still able to operate with “no restrictions or secrecy around their activities”. This appears to be bordering on a major conspiracy.

What would be the first action of any concerned citizen in possession of reasonable grounds (perhaps even evidence) that there is a “major drugs problem” in the shape of a drug-dealing criminal enterprise being conducted in the Nicolson Institute? I assume that citizen would immediately take these concerns to the police. I'm sure I would be right in assuming that that is exactly what Angus did...wouldn't I?

I might be a bit uncharitable here, but I wouldn’t discount the possibility, that Angus has launched a steaming pile of unsubstantiated rumour, gossip and innuendo into the blogosphere, which in the process smeared the Nicolson Institute, its staff (the ignorant and unwilling) and its pupils (apparently aware of what is going on). Disgraceful.

I have little doubt that the Nicolson has the same challenges with pupil behaviour, drugs, alcohol, etc. that any other school of a similar size will have. These are serious issues and serious problems that deserve proper consideration and are ill-served by this type of sensationalistic doggerel, which indiscriminately smears all-and-sundry and raises nothing but unnecessary fear and concern.

The one bright spot in all this is that some of the pupils have had enough spirit and confidence to come on to the blog to repudiate some of this rubbish. I think they should be proud of their contributions – albeit it with the occasional lapse in grammar and spelling. Surely, however, we’ve all been there and done that!

We should be engaging with young people who want to contribute and encouraging them to provide views and input. The rubbishing of their contributions because of the occasional typo instead of listening to what they have to say is sad and probably says a lot about some of the people who contributes to this blog. The comment from Annonymous 5.02 PM is particularly pathetic. It’s tragic if that is how we as a community view comments and contributions from our young people.

Ciorstaidh MacIver said...

I would aim my comments at the individuals who posted them for the sake of clarity (rather than to personally offend) but for some reason there are a lot of anonymous poeple about, funny that.

Firstly, thank you to one of the anonymous souls for your summation of my future. I noted it's relevance to what I had said. As well as its personally offensive nature.

"In my day the only people with less knowledge than the teachers of the underground activities of the pupils were the prefects."
May I be so bold as to ask when your day was? Times change.

"and factually correct"
Facts? I must have missed those, where's the actual evidence again?

"6th form prefects"
I believe, from those who have commented so far, I am the only prefect. The whole of sixth year and the rest of the pupils were equally shocked and felt the need to voice their opinions, as some have.

"Fool." Name-calling, nice.

"Angus didn't say over 1000 pupils had drug problems." Neither did the person who wrote that comment. They stated that by suggesting there was a 'major drugs problem' in the school all the pupils reputations are being tarnished; which they are.

"prefects/whines/fairies/people of a delicate nature"
Offensive.

And to the thought of moving to avoid one's children having to go to the Nicolson doesn't even make sense. The mainland isn't perfect either.

As I have stated, not only am I saddened that a former councillor - someone who one would expect to champion the Island's young people - felt the need to post this blog, rather than simply inform the authorities; but I am more saddened to see others finding it appropriate to attack the comments made by supports on the grounds of spelling and grammar and attributing this to the education standards of the Nicolson. I would also have thought people would not be so quick to disregard the achievements of the pupils of the Nicolson Institute.

Basically, the Nicolson is not perfect, however it does not have a 'major drugs problem.'

Ps there is not one Tarquin or Jemima in sixth year.

Tarquin - NI Prefect... said...

Seems to be some attacking of the prefects going on now as well!

Think some people are a wee bitty bitter they didn't make prefect....

CHAMAKH ATTACK said...

This is hilarious! It's just another one of those stories where people who know absolutely nothing about The Nicolson getting a story by another person who knows nothing about it and then they blow it out of proportion! well done everyone, I've never had so much fun reading 50+ comment =D

Anonymous #999999999 said...

Just to start things off, I am currently a pupil at the Nicolson Institute, and I am amazed at this blog and some of the responses. Unfortunately my response is so large that it is in two parts, please forgive this.

"I've had nothing but negative comments about the school, or more accurately the education system in the Western Isles"
Such as? Also, as Ciorstaidh has already asked, from whom?

"I am now told, by someone who should know"
Facts are only as good as their source, the way you put this is not persuasive.

"There is a major drugs problem"
Well that's worrying, people must be walking around stoned then, oh hang on...no they're not, that's inconvenient. Just how many people doing drugs does it take to be a major problem anyway?

"smallish number of pupils"
How many is smallish, roughly? Also, I thought there was a major problem.

"Whilst their fellow pupils seem to aware of what is happening, there seems to be no restrictions or secrecy around their activities."
Funny how no other pupil that I've talked to seems to be aware when it is plainly so obvious.

"No idea how much leaf goes off the island and north to Harris then Lewis, but to think the islands are almost cannabis-free is naive in the extreme."
Irrelevant, this blog is about pupils taking drugs in school. Same goes to all mentioning alcohol.

"I recall looking at the Nicolson playground in - maybe- 1983. And watching a drug deal going down.
People laughed at me at the time."
I'm laughing now. This is more irrelevant than the above, at least that was talking about the present. One drug deal thirty years ago does not constitute a major problem today, in fact, it is utterly meaningless.

"What I have been told concerns me enough to consider leaving the islands before my children reach secondary school age. I know of a local social worker who is also considering the same due to what they have witnessed first hand with their clients."
Seriously? I don't know what you've been told, but if you think that the islands are that bad, then I don't know what you're going to make of, for example, the mainland.

"I see with my own eyes the children on the streets of Stornoway smoking, drinking and generally be anti social both during school hours and at weekends."
See my sixth response.

"Like all the best pupils form the Nicolson you'll go far; probably the Central Belt; a good degree; marriage; kids; and ocassion visits to the islands when you will bemoan the drop-off in the quality of education at the NI, and complain about the population decline."
Amazing, you should be on TV. Never have I seen such powers of prophesy. To stick with your comments:
"I'm not sure where Angus suggested that the Nicolson was like some kind of Gaelic Trainspotting, but you well and truly demolished that argument."
Actually, he did say that there was, and I quote, "a major drugs problem." Then again, he did refute this statement by then saying that it was a small minority. Maybe you were just confused? I know I was.
"In my day, the only people with less knowledge than teachers of the underground activities of the pupils were the prefects."
Fine, since I am neither one of the best pupils nor a prefect, by your logic I should have at least some knowledge of these "underground activities." Strange that I don't.
"There is a small hardcore of drug users in the Nicolson. The problem is that some of them are also dealing and that's what new."
Evidence please.

Anonymous #999999999 said...

Part Two

"What a hysterical over-reaction to the original - and factually correct - blog posting, from what appears to be Tarquin, Jemima and the other 6th form prefects."
An over-reaction? Would you be happy having your school/uni/workplace insulted with absolutely no evidence to back it up? Factually correct, when would anyone with any common sense believe this when the evidence amounts to nothing more than "somebody told me something."
"Fool. The first point negates the second. Angus didn't say over 1000 pupils had a drug problem; as you pointed out yourself, it's a smallish number of pupils."
Yet there is apparently a major drugs problem, see what I'm getting at?

"There's a drugs problem, with a small number of pupils dealing, at the Nic. If you are unaware of this, then you aren't really fit to be an authoritative voice on the place. Maybe the prefects/whiners/fairies/people of a delicate nature who hath protested too much on here..."
Where's the evidence, especially of the dealing part, even the blog doesn't mention that. More pulling "facts" from midair I think. Also, I wouldn't insult the people who are taking the time to answer and give evidence against the statements mentioned in the blog.

Anonymous said...

I do not know about a drug problem but there certainly seems to be a spelling problem.

Anonymous said...

Ciorstaidh
"As I have stated, not only am I saddened that a former councillor - someone who one would expect to champion the Island's young people - felt the need to post this blog, rather than simply inform the authorities;"

But that is how we move things forward- we debate things. I don't know why you are saddened that Angus allows an extremely rare conduit for free speech in a very socially restricted society. This blog is an invaluable public service for the people of these islands. He may well be wrong on this issue, but it is only through debate that we reach that conclusion. Simply going to 'inform the authorities' would achieve nothing as they probably know what's going but have neither the time or the evidence to mount a case. And there would be no debate.

And yes, debate includes anonymity. In such a restricted society as the WI, being able to post anonymously is very important for many of us. Certainly I would not wish to talk about all the horrors I had when I went to the NI, writing under my real name.

Anonymous said...

Just a minor observation. It is interesting how this "group" of Nicolson prefects / spokeschildren / spin doctors, who proclaim to be all-seeing and all-knowing, have only discovered this blog in the last day or so.

A blog which has been running for years, is by far the most well-read in the Outer Hebrides, and has mentioned the Nicolson in previous posts.

Odd, that.

Anonymous said...

9:53pm
This post has angered me deeply.

how dare they insinuate that there is any problem?

I am not aware of any problem in the Nicolson, and neither are any of my peers

Although I do believe there is a problem with alcohol in the school which should be tackled.

I think Nicolson Institute's debating society needs a little work too LOLOLOLOLOL

Ciorstaidh MacIver said...

Who has proclaimed to be all-seeing and all-knowing?
If the pupils who go to the school and profess to not knowing anything about these drugs are being accused of being all-seeing and all-knowing surely those who are claiming the opposite could be accused of the same thing?

Also, many pupils are aware of the blog anyway but were alerted to this entry in particular after a pupil posted it on facebook, that's why everyone has seemingly come at the same time.

As I've said, the Nicolson is not perfect, every school has problems, but it certainly does not have a 'major drugs problem'.

Anonymous said...

My biggest concern about all these apparent NI postings is their complete lack of grasp of the English language and spelling. Basic words are incorrectly spelt and you are the ones arguing for the greatness of the NI!!! I dread to think what the others would write, or maybe they can't which is why they don't!

Anonymous said...

I think that it is the drug dealers who are objecting to this post as you might smash their ring....
Think about it

Anonymous said...

albeit it with the occasional lapse in grammar and spelling.

Occasional lapse!!!!!!!?????????? There are more words spelt wrong than right!

Anonymous said...

This is a school that has opted out of teaching birth control. Very forward thinking............. Drugs don't exist, alcohol doesn't exist, sex doesn't happen apart from twice during your marriage and you will be blessed with two children, if you are lucky. Don't do anything apart from worship on a Sunday and if you are a woman, allow your husband to abuse you and get drunk whenever he chooses, as he is the head of the family.

Anonymous #999999999 said...

"My biggest concern about all these apparent NI postings is their complete lack of grasp of the English language and spelling. Basic words are incorrectly spelt and you are the ones arguing for the greatness of the NI!!! I dread to think what the others would write, or maybe they can't which is why they don't!"
As opposed to the one who uses three exclamation marks, but I'm sure that was for emphasis, am I right? However, in all seriousness, can anybody post examples of such mistakes in my posts, I am genuinely interested in hopefully correcting them.
PS: Put a comma before the "which" or change it with the word "that". I do love hypocrites.

Steven said...

My biggest concern about all these apparent NI postings is their complete lack of grasp of the English language and spelling. Basic words are incorrectly spelt and you are the ones arguing for the greatness of the NI!!! I dread to think what the others would write, or maybe they can't which is why they don't!

10:33 PM

SIR you are totaly out of line, it is quite obvious that you are disalusional and like only the sound of your own voice.

Students have delivered a concise argument detailing all the manny holes in this aledged drug scandal

i would not class this site as one of the most widely read since like most cheap newspapers it contains half truths and exagerations. one that does hold merit is Hebrides news Which REPORTS FACTS unlike this blog.

where adults spend there time correcting spelling instead of actualy listening to the argument provided by NI students.

I am a student and freely addmit my spelling is attrocious I at least know it and inform people if you like to be a grammer nazi so be it but WE as students have not gone through ANY of your msgs and informed yous of any of your gramatical errors.

it just shows us that yous do not care for our oppinions and are still treating us like children when we are not !

and why have we only started posting now. the answer is simple we are the 6th years of the NI, last years may not have known or cared to comment but we do and we will continue to do so to defend the NI and its staff and pupils

Anonymous said...

"My biggest concern about all these apparent NI postings is their complete lack of grasp of the English language and spelling. Basic words are incorrectly spelt and you are the ones arguing for the greatness of the NI!!! I dread to think what the others would write, or maybe they can't which is why they don't!"

Oh no! Hit us where it hurts our spelling and grasp of english. Try to understand that this is not what the post is about. In reality its about all of these "drugged up kids."

Although if you think about it logically. How many times has anyone on this post seen them shooting up heroin, snorting cocaine, poping eccies or smoking cannabis in the nicolson within the few years. If you have then by all means continue slandering the school that you most likely attended.

However if you have not and are purely posting on this because its a good bit of gossip then please just sort your life out. The idea that we, the pupils of this school. Have to protect its name from people that have nothing better to do than sit and whine about made up problems is just appalling. Yes ok there may be a couple of junkies in the school. Although with a school of that size your bound to have one or two, but really when was the last time you looked at the nicolson and saw a crowd of drugged up kids stumbling around, i know i havn't and ive been a pupil for 6 years.

I just ask you to think about this before you criticise the school and it pupils. After all we'll be the ones who choose your retirement home.

Anonymous #999999999 said...

I apologise for the double post, but I had not seen this one and I feel that I need to respond.

"This is a school that has opted out of teaching birth control. Very forward thinking............. Drugs don't exist, alcohol doesn't exist, sex doesn't happen apart from twice during your marriage and you will be blessed with two children, if you are lucky. Don't do anything apart from worship on a Sunday and if you are a woman, allow your husband to abuse you and get drunk whenever he chooses, as he is the head of the family."
You seem to have a very strange view of the school, and people in general. I would be very interested to know where you got these ideas from. It has already been commented that sexual education is given at the Nicolson Institute, which has in it, guess what...birth control! Thank you, come again!

Steven said...

This is a school that has opted out of teaching birth control. Very forward thinking............. Drugs don't exist, alcohol doesn't exist, sex doesn't happen apart from twice during your marriage and you will be blessed with two children, if you are lucky. Don't do anything apart from worship on a Sunday and if you are a woman, allow your husband to abuse you and get drunk whenever he chooses, as he is the head of the family.

10:43 PM

PERHAPS you would care to direct yourself to an earlier comment when a link to the BBC NEWS SITE was posted explaning that the Western isles has ONE of the LOWEST rates of teenage pregnancys.

REGULARLY NHS staff come to the NI and give sex ed talks as well as the guidance staff spending at least 2 months on sex ed in S3-S4 with more leassons as you continue in the school as it is such an important topic.

and again more comments about spelling.

well guess what I Dont care and at least we are sticking up for someting we believe in and defending teachers that cannot defend themselves. You assume each student can get an A in higher English and know the ins and outs of the English language not all can I will be lucky if i get a C but at least i can make an arguemnt and poke more holes in this pices of rubbish than you can sir. all you can do is comment on my spelling well bring it on i invite you to point out all my mistakes i know my english teacher has had enough and keeps telling me where i go wrong but at least SHE sticks to it and is helping me and thanks to her in the time ive been in the NI i was able to pass int2 .we willl see how long you last correcting my spelling.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for making fun of my dyslexia. Whats next for you tripping over blind children, or insulting others with special needs.

Anonymous said...

This is a school that has opted out of teaching birth control.

Is this true? Can an actual pupil or teacher confirm this?

Anonymous said...

How can you people be so horrible and judgemental.

Have any of you that have commented negatively on the school's so called drugs problem, the education the school provides, the alcohol problem or anything else that is irrelevant to the original drugs issue still in school or has left school recently?

If not, then you have no right to slander the school and community like this.

Being a pupil myself, I certainly haven't heard anything about a drugs problem.
"There seems to be no restrictions or secrecy around their activities."
What a load of rubbish! If this was the case, then EVERYONE would know about it.

Though the school isn't without it's problems, there most certainly isn't a "major drugs problem."

Anonymous said...

"...we use such modern appliance as the internet to communicate with each other out of school..."

If you gave an infinite number of monkeys with keyboards an infinite amount of time, eventually one will produce the works of Shakespeare.

In the meantime, judging from the appalling spelling and grammar in some of the comments here, a few of them found this blog posting and banged randomly on the keyboard...

Anonymous said...

To all the NI pupils posting on this blog. Please realise that you are doing yourselves and your education an injustice with your basic grammatical and spelling errors. The fact that you are apparently S6 pupils makes this even more appalling and concerning. Computers provide spelling and grammatical checks, use them or you will not be taken seriously, particularly when you are trying to debate how wonderful your school and education is....

Anonymous said...

well guess what I Dont care

And therein lies the problem.

By the way, you don't put a capital letter in the middle of a sentence unless you are writing the name of a person or a country....

The NI english department certainly needs a kick up the arse....

Anonymous said...

Looks like the very 1st response to this post was a question very worthy of an answer.

It also seems that the responses from the pupils are much more eloquent and researched that some of the adult responses.

The case rests.

Anonymous said...

I just ask you to think about this before you criticise the school and it pupils. After all we'll be the ones who choose your retirement home.

I really don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Have any of you that have commented negatively on the school's so called drugs problem, the education the school provides, the alcohol problem or anything else that is irrelevant to the original drugs issue still in school or has left school recently?

Eh? What is the question?

Oh my goodness, is this the best that NI can do? Can I be on the debating team or is that the debaser? Run to the hills....

Anonymous #999999999 said...

"If you gave an infinite number of monkeys with keyboards an infinite amount of time, eventually one will produce the works of Shakespeare."
Irrelevant. Again. Unless one of us has just produced a "Hamlet"!
Can any of the posters focus on arguments rather than spelling or grammar? In any case not one of you have pointed out one mistake in any of my posts, are they really that grammatically good that you choose to ignore them rather than even oppose the points raised in them?

Anonymous said...

12.14... f of you seld righteous swot: drugs rool..

Anonymous said...

i would not class this site as one of the most widely read since like most cheap newspapers it contains half truths and exagerations.

You have confused relative readership popularity with accuracy. These are two different concepts. I'm sorry you don't understand this.

and why have we only started posting now. the answer is simple we are the 6th years of the NI, last years may not have known or cared to comment but we do and we will continue to do so to defend the NI and its staff and pupils...

You are borderline illiterate and you are in the 6th year of the NI?! Sadly - and I mean this seriously - it won't be the reputation of the NI that fails to get you into university, but the lack of functional skills that you should possess at your age.

I sincerely hope you apply yourself to significant and rapid improvement in this area. While you do have passion, as evidenced by your comments (even if I don't agree with you), your literacy skills will hold you back unless either they markedly improve, or you settle for a menial job or career post-NI.

Anonymous said...

The NI english department certainly needs a kick up the arse....

Thats not the only thing that needs a kick up the arse

Anonymous said...

Well Wot A Lot of keyboard warriors this seems to have attracted - and not younger ones either.

To the older posters - might I suggest that you welcome the fact that younger posters have chosen to engage on such a serious subject and just let them be on the issues of spelling and grammar.

And to the younger posters? Ride over it and ignore them. You'll experience worse flaming on the net in future if you haven't experienced it already. What some of the posters on here are saying exposes their own inadequacies. Not yours.

Anonymous said...

confused ! who has the alcohol and drugs problem , staff or pupils ? :}

Keyboard Warrior said...

To the older posters - might I suggest that you welcome the fact that younger posters have chosen to engage on such a serious subject and just let them be on the issues of spelling and grammar.

I welcome their engagement. But not their hypocrisy a la "oor edukashun it were brillyant" which they have been rightly hauled up on. Nor their baffling refusal to acknowledge the drugs situation in the NI.

So don't tell me what to do. This is a debating forum, and if you don't want to debate, or object to what's on here, then go and take a running jump in the harbour.

Anonymous said...

10:04

I concur!

Anonymous said...

'The teachers I had in the Nicolson were, on the whole the best I would ever want. They were encouraging, enthusiastic about their subject and wanted you to learn and I feel your blog is a discredit to them'

Really? My 3rd-4th year maths teacher cried in front of us... twice. I asked to be moved from the class and nothing happened, i learnt nothing, not a thing. She is ridiculous to look at, but image isn't the important thing here. She can't control her class, how she was ever hired is beyond me. My English teacher was depressed and just let us do whatever. My friends English teacher refers to her self as a 3rd person!
Teachers need to be given a happy pill or something, cheer them up! some motivation would be nice.

Anonymous said...

Here's my two cents on all this, as a pupil in the Nicolson:

- A handful of people in the school have experimented with drugs in the past, outside of school. They concluded that it was a bad thing, and I for one have been warned off drugs by these people.

- As a person who is friends with these people, I have never heard of any drug deals taking place within the Nicolson Institute.

- Without counting, I would guess that there are more comments on the blog from Grammar Nazis than people who actually care about the slandering of pupils at the Nicolson. If there really was a 'major drug problem', would you really be more worried about how we spelt 'sufficient' or our use of the apostrophe.

- The Western Isles community is, as many people on this blog seem to be well aware, a very restrictive one, where people cannot hang their washing on the Sabbath without people gossiping. I'm sure that more people would be aware of these 'major drug problems' if they actually existed. Does anyone else see a possible link between Lewis and Salem, Mass. circa 1692?

- There are drink and vandalism problems among minors in the Western Isles. There are both of these among most societies in the UK, because drink, at least, is a nationwide issue across the generations.

- As I believe someone has pointed out, there are random tests done with spaniels at the bus stop in the mornings, and to the best of my knowledge, there have been no drugs found on any of the pupils.

- Ciorstaidh MacIver is one of the most capable prefects I've ever had the pleasure of being in school with. I suggest that commenters show her the respect that she deserves for defending her school and peers.

- To the person who thinks that there is little/no sex education in the Nicolson Institute, I think you may be interested to know that some of us have just had a few weeks of learning about STDs, contraception and the pros and cons of teenage pregnancy. A little bit of research wouldn't hurt there.

Hope that gave people a little more information.

Anonymous said...

No, it is not true that the school have opted out of teaching birth control - a few years ago we were traumatised from having to pass various forms of contraception around our guidence class..!

And teachers are not allowed to post on here. It is against council policy for them to comment on the runnings of the school in such a way or talk to the press. A shame when they have all been so upset by this and the way students are being chastised for 'illiteracy' in the comments.

Also, has the debate regarding the non-existant 'major drug problem' been settled? Or is it all just going to be comments about a few spelling mistakes?

Ps, to the comment about the NI debate team, recently the school won the National Deasbad Gaelic Debating Competition and was last year successful in another large (english speaking) debating competition on the mainland.

Anonymous said...

Since the Nicolson pupils started posting into this chain, reading the response has been fascinating. The reaction to what they are saying is hard to fathom – I would summarise it as “you’ve made a range of grammatical and spelling errors, therefore your views hold no merit”. If that were the case there would have been very few postings on here over the years, which would hold any merit (my own included).

I suggest if we want to hold a debate on the merits of grammar and spelling in schools we open a new post.

Can we remind ourselves, however, what this post is actually about and the extremely serious nature of what is alleged, i.e. that there is a serious drug problem at the Nicolson; that dealers are operating in the school and have access to every form of drug (and I assume this means Class A); that teachers and management are complicit in this by ignoring it; that the dealers are able to operate unhindered and that all pupils at the school are aware of these activities. Does anyone seriously believe any of that?

I’ve no doubt that there are issues at the Nicolson, much as there will be at any other school through-out the country. But to portray the Nicolson as having a major drugs problem as characterised in the original post is simply irresponsible.

If I were a teacher I would be seriously asking my Union representatives what recourse I have against the type of slander that is propagated in the initial post. If I were the Northern Constabulary I would be seriously interested in some of the information doing the rounds here. Some of the posters either have knowledge and evidence of criminal drug-related activity - either that or they are engaged in the deliberate spreading of malicious and unfounded rumours.

I commend the students of the Nicolson, who feel angry enough about how they and their school have been portrayed to come onto this blog to tell us how they feel. It is brilliant to hear young people being positive about their schooling and their school. It makes a pleasant change to hear people having something positive to say about their community, rather than the grinding negativity and pessimism that normally characterises this blog. I’ve no doubt there are problems, (possibly many problems) but there is much to be proud of in the Nicolson.

I would encourage the young people to keep giving us their opinions (on this and any other topic) and to simply ignore the vacuous comments about spelling and grammar. Concentrate on the key issues and the things that are important to you and don’t be dissuaded by cheap and nasty shots. Our community needs young people who are willing to make a positive contribution. I for one feel pretty proud that you’ve ventured on here to make the contributions you have. More power to you!

To the so-called “adults” who believe they are engaged in debate – you are sadly deluded. The definition of debate is basically to engage in argument by discussing opposing points. The students came onto the blog to provide an opposing point of view to that presented in the original post. Simply hurling abuse back at them because of lapses in spelling and grammar is pathetic, facile and ignorant – particularly in light of the serious issues that started this chain.

And finally, getting back to that very topic: does anyone truly believe the scenario that Angus posits in his opening post; of a school riven by a major drugs problem; where dealers with “unlimited access to anything and everything” are “operating unfettered just below the surface” and where teachers and management are unwilling to tackle the issue? It does a significant disservice to real health issues and the real issues facing the Nicolson to have issues portrayed in this sensationalistic, over-the-top manner.

Anonymous said...

Having followed the many comments to this somewhat volatile debate, it is clear to see that the older generation are exhibiting more immaturity than the respectable youngsters who have spoken out to defend ludicrous claims made by a handful of people with little current knowledge of the Nicolson Institute.

What is truly disheartening to see is the petty slandering from adults regarding the spelling and grammar of a number of pupils. However, perhaps there so called 'expert critiques' should proof read their own "wonderfully spelt and grammatically holy" comments before turning a hypocritical eye to the youngsters.

I believe the arguments posed by the pupils of the Nicolson Institute are to be commended, not only for exposing the holes and weaknesses in this blog but for putting across, strong well structured arguments demonstrating their loyalty and pride in the school, it's teaching staff and their peers, respectively.

The trivial criticisms of spelling and grammar on this blog are purely negligible. Really, my only answer for such petty behaviour is that the older generation are struggling to put across an argument stronger than the youngsters' therefore resort to nitpicking in something so irrelevant to the initial issues raised.

Surely the opinions of those who have current experience of the N.I should be given more consideration in this debate as much more reliable evidence than being told "by someone who should know".

Also, well done Ciorstaidh for outshining the many self-minded commenters on this blog, in pure simplistic fashion.

Emma Macleod, Head of Macrae at the Nicolson Institute said...

ANNONYMUS COMMENTING

Whilst everyone supports people's right to free speech, comments etc and their anonymity in matters where there may be a fear of some sort of retribution:e.g Liu Xiaobo supporters.
Surely, in this situation, people who have knowledge of such a situation in the Nicolson (which I as a pupil am totally unaware) are morally obliged to tell the relevant authorities and not continue to scaremonger on a silly blog page. There is an old adage that serves well here
Freedom of speech doesn't give someone the right to shout "fire" in a crowded theratre.

Alan said...

I think a lot of you should be ashamed of yourselves. For so many of the NI's pupils to come forward and defend their school is nothing short of admirable in my eyes. They presented their arguments well, and when you had nothing to say back to them all you could think to do was spout cliches and insult their spelling. Considering the vast majority of this blog post has been nothing but hearsay and rumours, I think that the eye-witness accounts from the pupils themselves is a lot more believable than the half-baked comebacks the "anonymous" majority can think of.
From what I've seen, what's happened here is that several (anonymous) people have claimed there to be a massive drug problem within a high school, but when asked to substantiate their claims they had nothing. Evidence is everything in this world. Bear that in mind before spreading such rumours

Anonymous said...

5.50


But I'm afraid that 'evidence' is something you can't put in this thread.

You all have no idea what Angus or others may have put in front of other people - or what has been or could be done with it given the current rules of the legal system. Best to remember that.

Anonymous said...

I got 99 problems but you ain't one......

Sorry, there were 99 comments on here when I posted this and I thought I would lighten the atmosphere a bit....

Anonymous said...

a few years ago we were traumatised from having to pass various forms of contraception around our guidence class..!

And that sums up what is wrong with this Island's education system. Trust me, childbirth at 16 is a lot more traumatising. What would you rather had? been a little embarassed at having to handle a condom or a young life ruined, living in a council house with not future?

Anonymous said...

"a few years ago we were traumatised from having to pass various forms of contraception around our guidence class..!

And that sums up what is wrong with this Island's education system. Trust me, childbirth at 16 is a lot more traumatising. What would you rather had? been a little embarassed at having to handle a condom or a young life ruined, living in a council house with not future?"

That was a wee joke, pal, chill out.
It was also a highly informative lesson.

a.lamont1@hotmail.co.uk said...

Come on 6th years lets be realistic the man is simply outlining some problems with our school. Problems that need to be considered for improvement.

There are bound be some pupils in such a large school that get involved with drugs. And surely even one pupil being involved in such activities is too many. Angus has not provided the necessary evidence but i am sure that he does have the evidence. I believe that he is however unable to share where this evidence is coming from due to the sensitive nature of the matter. Also 6th years we arent likely to know about the pupils involved in drugs as it is not the kind of thing you would tell people about. Perhaps their guidance teachers or someone like that would know although we dont. I dont feel that Angus has offended or disrespected us as pupils by saying that a smallish number of pupils are involved with drugs. I mean that is out of a thousand of us.

As for the education we recieve i dont believe that the teachers are of the same standard as when i first started attending the NI. I mean they arent in the same league as mathematics legend Mr Macsween, Geography legend Mrs Macdonald 'the witch', English teacher Mr Tom Clarke, Mr Macphail science and Mrs Mackay Maths. That is not to say that there arent very good teachers left in school and i think there are some great young teachers coming through.

Our school is not terrible but it is not that good either. It certainly isnt as good as when i joined in 1st year. There is a lack off staff (advanced higher pupils are being let down) and perhaps there is even a lack of subject choices. A lot of improvements need to be made and I hope that the new school building that will hopefully be ready in a few years time will fuel these changes.

If I have offended any of my fellow 6th years for not standing up for our school then I am sorry but this is merely my opinion on the matter.

Alasdair Lamont

Sixth Year Nicolson Student said...

Bottom line is none of the 6th year students who have commented and seen this blog have any knowledge whatsoever of any drug's problem. I, also a 6th year in the school, have never once in my life even seen a drug. How do you explain that one after attending the school for 6 years? You have absolutely no sound evidence of any drug use and it is becoming increasingly clear that the allegations being made are just another example of some sort of McCarthyism nonesense.

Anonymous said...

Those are very selective comments Ali, have you forgotten all the admirable things are school has done?

And 'let's be realistic'? We are; there is a minute minority, there is not a 'major drugs problem,'

Oh course there are staffing problems, we live on an island.

And there are some brilliant teachers in the school, a minority which are not, but whether one finds a teacher to be 'good' or 'bad' tends to be because of the particular way they like to be taught. Take any class in the school and you'll find pupils who will say the teacher is good and others that will say they are bad, it is all down to personal opinions of effective teaching methods.

Phil O'Sopher said...

Absence of evidence of drugs in the NI

is not the same as

Evidence of absence of drugs in the NI

Alan said...

Phil O'Sopher... I get it, sounds like philosopher... clever.
Your little pun with that doesn't really work though, does it? The statement was that there are drugs in the NI. A rebuttal that states "where's your evidence that there are" can't really be countered by saying "Where's your evidence that there isn't"
That wouldn't really wash in a courtroom, would it? "He killed him" "Prove it" "Prove that he didn't"

Anonymous said...

Alasdair 6.55

You're absolutely right when you say that "There are bound be some pupils in such a large school that get involved with drugs." I don't think anyone is disputing that. It would be surprising indeed in a school the size of the Nicolson if there wasn't some form of experimentation with substances.

It is a huge leap from that, however, to what Angus is alleging. What Angus has said is that there is a "major drugs problem" and that there are dealers with “unlimited access to anything and everything” who are “operating unfettered just below the surface” with teachers and management unwilling to tackle the issue. I think it is that wild allegation that has made everyone so angry.

Anonymous said...

"the man is simply outlining some problems with our school"
What?!
He claims there is a 'major drugs problem' where students can get 'unlimited access to anything and everything' and that no one is doing anything about it. That's hardly 'outlining problems'.

a.lamont1@hotmail.co.uk said...

I believe that two or three pupils being involved is a problem that should be looked at and that is what he is saying. I dont believe that my comments are any more selective than the ones previously posted. I for one incourage people too look into any problems with the school no matter how minor and attempt to find solutions.

And to the anonymous who said that the standard of teaching issue is down to personal opinion. Yes i know that is what I said 'it is merely my opinion on the matter'

I also dont understand why people post as anonymous, if you are posting anonymously then it probably means you dont want to be associated with your post (tell me if I am wrong). But if that is not the case tell us who you all are. You also say that there are some brilliant teachers in the school. And I already mentioned that when I said 'That is not to say that there arent very good teachers left in school and i think there are some great young teachers coming through.



We arent being realistic if we think there arent any pupils involved with drugs. It is certainly worth looking into anyway.

And NO i havent forgotten the admirable things the school has done and in fact I am proud have been involved in some admirable moments with the school. But that is not what the blog is a about. It is about finding the flaws with the school and looking for ways to improve the school. It would be lovely but rather pointless to read a blog from Angus about all the fantastic things the school has and are doing. We have other places to go to read about that sort of thing (i hope we do anyway)

I know that I will most probably be the only pupil to give any sort of support to Angus and I know that I might get some stick for this , but it dosent bother me, as this is MY opinion.

a.lamont1@hotmail.co.uk said...

ANONYMOUS(why do people feel the need to stay anonymous) 7.47

Yeh ok i understand that it may anger some people but it dosent anger me. Surely a few pupils being involved in drugs is to many and is therefore ( due to the consequences of it)a major problem.<-- Most will disagree with that, which I can understand. (it is only my opinion)

As for the unlimted acess well I dont know about that (obviously :> )but I remember a man or maybe two being arrested in Carloway for being in possesion of a huge amount of drugs. Maybe Im wrong about that story and if it is true I have perhaps overstepped the mark by bringing it up. I will maybe look for an artical about it online. But my point is there probably are plenty who can provide plenty of drugs if they are wanted (people taking them in from the mainland perhaps?)<----- that last point has very little substance in honesty :)

Anonymous said...

7.47

There may be many reasons why staff and others may be 'unwilling to tackle' any issue that exists.

There may be no concrete evidence at any one time.

Any people concerned may be popular and the member of staff not - and insecure.

A member of staff might be concerned about the potential for counter accusations.

A member of staff might have taken part in drug use in their past (indeed it would be surprising if none of them had given that they went to mainland universities) and be sympathetic.

The member of staff might still partake - and be sympathetic.

The member of staff might be concerned about possible 'criminalisation' of the person concerned in a situation where that tag could blight their future prospects and family life - when they could very well leave it behind them at an early stage.

The list could be much longer and much of it also applies to misuse of alcohol.

I fear that because some students don't know about activity doesn't mean that it doesn't go on. Just that the people concerned might be keeping it to themselves and others they can 'trust'.

It seems to me that there's a degree of polarisation going on now. Some people on the thread are saying 'No way' and others are saying 'Serious problems'. How about a little moving towards a recognition of the others' views.

Awareness is always better than ignorance.

Anonymous said...

Some points.

1. The original posting says that it's a smallish number of pupils involved, and that the vast majority of pupils are not affected. Some of the alleged 6th formers on here are trying to make out the posting was a whole lot more negative.

2. If you're a pupil cutting up an eighth of an ounce, the last person you'll do it in sight of is a prefect. It's hardly surprisingly that some of them are unaware.

3. The person who said he'd never seen a drug in his life is in for one hell of a shock if he goes to a mainland university.

4. A lot of the pro-NI comments say "Don't write about spelling and grammar as it isn't relevant" ... and then promptly write a loud of irrelevant stuff about the NI. A bit control-freakery? The topic under debate is the availability of drugs in the NI, not how fine and wonderful - or otherwise - the teaching and teaching staff are.

5. It's becoming obvious where the next generation of councillors are coming from. God/Allah/Jehovah help us all...

Anonymous said...

˙ɹǝʞoɾ uʍouʞ llǝʍ ɐ sɐʍ ɹǝɥɔɐǝʇ ʎɯ

Anonymous said...

So how much does a quarter cost in the Tuck Shop?

Anonymous said...

A WAKE-UP call now required, for everyone, teachers and pupils, throughout these islands, not just at NI. Have you ever witnessed and confronted the DEATH of a young person overdosing or experimenting with drugs? This happens. TRAGIC, all round, for all concerned. School, teachers, parents, family and friends. Whether the problem at NI is "major" or "minor" is irrelevant, we're referring to life-threatening behaviour. LET's GET SERIOUS! Admit the problem, ot at least the likelihood of a problem - recognition is the first and most important step. Help is available, but being in "denial" blocks the many routes to receiving help, before its too late. Many pupils and teachers deny the problem - would you recognise the symptoms? (I'm not saying you should, whether teacher or pupil). Drug taking is not confined to school-time only. As many here have testified, Friday nights and week-ends see many younger teenagers get "full of it". Parents also carry responsibility, as this blog also comments. Parents are often "out of it" also. Children and young people live in such families. They are exposed to a life-style that condones and encourages such behaviour. This is referred to in sociological jargon as "sub-culture" or "under-class". (Statistically 60,000 children in Scotland live with parents who abuse heroin.) Combined with abuse of alcohol, drug-taking can be, and is in some circumstances, FATAL.
This debate helps raise awareness and alerts everyone to the potential of the very existence of a problem, then a carefully thought out and "pro-active" response from everyone in deciding how to respond - before it's TOO LATE. I don't like attending funerals of young people, such a waste of life. So sad. Major, or Minor? One is ONE TOO MANY. Believe me, I know.

Anonymous said...

There do seem to be a few pupils on here writing an extraordinary amount of text, though of unfortunately extremely variable quality and accuracy.

How do they have the time? Is the NI not giving enough homework to the kids?

Anonymous said...

Teachers not being allowed to blog here is one thing but I think the rule is that they mustn't get caught.
At least two have given us their somewhat reheated opinions, I gather.
Of everyone so far, the lad Lamont is the most honest and most balanced. Important qualities those.
Grammar Nazi I am not, but I know how people in the real world are regularly judged on their writing abilities.
As a recruiter, I can tell you emphatically it can affect the course of entire lives.
Sadly, the overall standard of the senior pupils' grammar here is really very disappointing.
Don't get defensive but the Nicolson Institute could do better.

Anonymous said...

9:52pm
Amen.
You have written exactly what I would have wanted to.

Anonymous said...

A.Lamont - All credit to you for your honesty and integrity.
From a "grown up"

a.lamont1@hotmail.co.uk said...

This isnt relevant to the Nicolson Institute. However I felt it would be worth while mentioning that I have read three seperate reports on the Hebridean News website about cannabis. The story from 9/12/10 tells of man sentenced to 80 hours of community service for possession of the drug. Story Two from the 8/12/10 tells of a man charged £160 having been caught with a trace of the drug. The last story tells of a man who actually grew the drug in a polytunnel. All these men are from Lewis

Make what you will of this. Please dont leave posts saying that this isnt relevant because they arent in school. Because I have already mentioned its irrelevance to the blog. I just thought it was intresting.

Anonymous said...

9:42 Seriously? A quarter is a large crumb; these are only schoolkids, remember.

The going rate for an eighth (better size) is three Curly Wurlys and a Tunnocks caramel log.

Anonymous said...

One of the big issues here is the tendency to bury one's head in the sand in order to avoid having to deal with something that is unpalatable.
Drugs are available at the NI, if you go looking for them. Underage sex is also rife resulting in teen pregnancies and STDs. Alcohol consumption is almost accepted as being the norm. I know of a 15 year old who has a drinks cabinet in their bedroom.
It is about time the authorities and teachers faced the issues and dealt with them appropriately.

Anonymous #999999999 said...

While I feel that your posts are very honest and mature Lamont, there are a few issues here.
"There are bound be some pupils in such a large school that get involved with drugs. And surely even one pupil being involved in such activities is too many."
In an ideal world, of course it would be fantastic if drug usage was completely eradicated, however, do you really believe that in a school of our size that this is possible? To use your words, "lets be realistic." I don't believe that anyone can claim that the Nici is drug free, what we are saying is that it cannot be described as a major problem.
"Angus has not provided the necessary evidence but i am sure that he does have the evidence. I believe that he is however unable to share where this evidence is coming from due to the sensitive nature of the matter."
That's very trusting of you. However, I cannot accept what he is saying without evidence, especially since my own life goes against what he is saying. Of course, it's perfectly possible that it has slipped past my attention.
"Also 6th years we arent likely to know about the pupils involved in drugs as it is not the kind of thing you would tell people about."
Got to agree, partially, here, but we haven't been sixth years for our whole time in school have we? Where was the major problem in our third year? Or fourth? These things don't just appear.
"Our school is not terrible but it is not that good either...There is a lack off staff (advanced higher pupils are being let down) and perhaps there is even a lack of subject choices."
Going off the drugs here, but I have to agree with most of this, but not that there is a lack of subject choices.

I can't speak for everyone else but you have certainly not offended me, it is good to hear as many views among your fellows as you can.

"I believe that two or three pupils being involved is a problem that should be looked at and that is what he is saying."
Sorry, but that is demonstatably not what he is saying, words and phrases like "major problem," "seemingly unlimited access to anything and everything" and "no restrictions or secrecy around their activities" clearly show that.
I hope that you don't take my comments as having a go at you, merely an honest appraisal of your arguments.

On the anonymous point, my username is a little personal joke at that, and I believe that there are a few who know who I am, and I am willing to give my name if anyone asks.

Anonymous said...

Re "Wake Up Call". See Registrar General Stats for Scotland (2009) with record of drug deaths in 2008 (increasing year by year). 545 drug-related deaths in Scotland (all ages), 71 deaths under age of 25 yrs.

http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/files2/stats/drug-related-deaths/drd2009/drd09-table4.pdf

Google "teenage drug deaths scotland" and you will read some harrowing stories. An enlightened and informed approach is healthy. An opportunity surely at the NI and elsewhere across these islands to have informed debate.

Re some issues raised re grammar and spelling in these posts to this blog? Only important if you're wording an epitaph on a grave stone. A serious subject deserving of serious and informed debate, by teachers, guidance staff, pupils, parents, youth groups, police, social workers, councillors and helping agencies. Xmas and New Year can be a particularly vulnerable time for many. There are full-time drug action advice and support workers available round the clock to offer any help and counselling required. Parents and teachers are often the last to know. Pupils and friends of school-aged drug abusers have an important role to play. Confidentiality is important. At the NI, please review your policies and encourage open debate on the various helping strategies which can be offered. Please don't drive it "underground" and deny the existence of a problem. This can have tragic consequences. As a community, we all carry a responsibility.

Anonymous #999999999 said...

@anonymous 9:02pm
1 -"The original posting says that it's a smallish number of pupils involved, and that the vast majority of pupils are not affected. Some of the alleged 6th formers on here are trying to make out the posting was a whole lot more negative."
It also states that there is a "major problem" and various other terms described in my previous post that leads one to believe that there is a serious drugs issue. This is a massive contradiction in the blog and you cannot pick and choose which comments to agree with without evidence.
2 -"If you're a pupil cutting up an eighth of an ounce, the last person you'll do it in sight of is a prefect. It's hardly surprisingly that some of them are unaware."
I'm not a prefect and yet I am unaware, as are others that I have talked to. Does this mean that it can't happen? No, I'm almost certain that there is drug taking at a school the size of the Nici, but that does not translate as a major problem, which is what is being argued against here.
3 - Agreed
4 -"The topic under debate is the availability of drugs in the NI, not how fine and wonderful - or otherwise - the teaching and teaching staff are."
Please read the blog before posting. "...not being addressed by the teachers or management. It is unclear whether that is due to their ignorance of the situation, or their unwillingness to tackle the principle principal offenders, or indeed whether it is being deliberately ignored in the hope it would go away." This is not referring to the teaching staff is it?
5 - Nice cheap shot.

@anonymous 9:52pm
Of course it's tragic, and I absolutely agree that we should be doing all that we can to keep usage down to a minimum. Nobody can honestly deny that there is some element of drug taking, but where we disagree is that I believe the distinction between major and minor is important.
"Drug taking is not confined to school-time only. As many here have testified, Friday nights and week-ends see many younger teenagers get "full of it"."
Irrelevant, this blog is about drug taking in the school.
"I don't like attending funerals of young people, such a waste of life. So sad. Major, or Minor? One is ONE TOO MANY. Believe me, I know."
Nobody likes attending the funeral of anyone, under any circumstances, but we have to be realistic. We are never, in my honest opinion, going to get rid of drugs completely, but keeping it down to a minimum is important.

@anonymous 9:56pm
Obvious troll is obvious.

And finally @anonymous 9:52am
"Drugs are available at the NI, if you go looking for them."
This would be true with any school our size. However, it's the scale that is being questioned.
"Underage sex is also rife resulting in teen pregnancies and STDs. Alcohol consumption is almost accepted as being the norm. I know of a 15 year old who has a drinks cabinet in their bedroom."
As with drugs, I'm sure that there is underage sex going on, but to describe it as rife? I hope you have something to back that up. I also need to ask, how does this relate to the school itself? While I wholeheartedly agree with your statement on alcohol, this debate is about drugs.

Anonymous said...

In a nutshell, it's all very sad and no one should be holding their heads high.

Unfortunately I, as a parent do not have the choice of secondary schools on the Isle of Lewis for which I can send my children to.

I can only hope that with the departure of the current rector things may improve, but with the current incumbants in power in the white house, this is doubtful.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #999999999 concluded with:

...and I am willing to give my name if anyone asks.

What is your name?

Anonymous said...

Demonstatably?????

Anonymous said...

I'm assuming these sources are himself trying to do a deal with all us "druggie" kids, because by the sounds of it, you'd have to be off your face to believe any of this bull.
I speak from the experience of never having seen or heard of drug problems within the school in the whole six years I've been there. It should also be accepted that, in modern society, drugs are a fairly common issue. But nobody should go as far as saying there is a "major" problem within the school that, by almost every comment, nobody has EVER heard of.
Sure, a minority of pupils may be involved with drugs and what-not but generalising by saying MOST of us are involved in dealing and snorting is rather insulting.

Anonymous said...

LOL

Anonymous said...

Re Anon @ 1.56pm comment:
"Drug taking is not confined to school-time only. As many here have testified, Friday nights and week-ends see many younger teenagers get "full of it"."
Irrelevant, this blog is about drug taking in the school.

Get your blinkers off and don't be so defensive. If kids are abusing drugs/alcohol at week-ends, it is carried into the school and continues there: playground, toilets, back of the class, corridors, school buses, canteen, lunch-time breaks in the street ... where-ever. Addiction cannot be turned "on" and "off" according to the setting. It is a school problem, it is a community problem ... it's everyone's problem. Open your eyes ... and do a bit of reading and research.

Anonymous #999999999 said...

@ Anonymous 5:47pm
Kenneth MacKay

@ Anonymous 9:05pm
Thanks, missed that. I meant demonstrably, although I trust that what I was saying was still obvious. I wish there was an edit button.

Anonymous said...

11:20 As per some of your colleagues, you've over-reacted.

Sure, a minority of pupils may be involved with drugs and what-not

Correct, which is what Angus was saying, and you go on...

but generalising by saying MOST of us are involved in dealing and snorting is rather insulting.

...which is NOT what Angus or other people have said. Did you read all of the original post, as I'll quote for you and others on here who obviously haven't, or are making up your own version:

Thankfully, the vast majority of pupils seem to be unaffected by this.

Is that clear enough to you now?

Kenneth MacKay aka. Anonymous #999999999 said...

@Anonymous 12:25pm
"Open your eyes ... and do a bit of reading and research."
Fine. Here’s the data from the latest Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey. (It is, rather unfortunately, from 2008, but there will be a new one based on 2010 sometime in the foreseeable future, and it states that the figures had not changed much for the prior two years. This was the best that I could do.)
“Twenty per cent of 15 year olds and 5% of 13 year olds reported they had used drugs in the last year and 13% of 15 year olds and 3% of 13 year olds reported that they had used drugs in the last month.”
“There has been little change in prevalence since 2006.”
In the interests of easier calculations I’m classifying 15 year olds as S4 and 13 year olds as S2, although I am aware that there is overlap in the years. So, the Nicolson contains around 1000 pupils total, and I’d estimate at around 100 secondary two pupils and maybe 200 secondary four pupils. Feel free to disagree, this is a guess. Based on the data, and taking the percentages to be true for this year, to reach the national norms, 40 S4 pupils would need to have done drugs in the last year, (bear in mind that these national figures would likely be under the true numbers because there will have been those unwilling to admit to use, so really there would need to be more than 40 users.) Just over twenty (conservative estimate) of these would also need to have used in the last month just to reach the national norms. It would be about 5 last year users and 3 last month users for S2. I have discussed these figures with another who has greater knowledge and insight into these matters than I do, and the numbers roughly match up for usage in S4 and S2 pupils. However, all of these national figures include out of school use. My source has also said that only maybe 5% of S4 pupils (around 10) have used in the school (not necessarily regularly). Taking this into account, as well as the fact that the percentages in the survey are likely to be under the true numbers, and the assumption that this trend is similar for all year groups, I have to conclude that the Nicolson Institute has lower than average drug usage amongst school pupils in the school and thus does not have a “major” drugs problem.
"Get your blinkers off and don't be so defensive."
I wasn't aware that I had been overly defensive and I apologise for seeming so. However, I find the blinkers comment somewhat immature.
"If kids are abusing drugs/alcohol at week-ends, it is carried into the school and continues there: playground, toilets, back of the class, corridors, school buses, canteen, lunch-time breaks in the street ... where-ever."
Please see my figures, although I accept that they are not 100% accurate, I believe them to be fairly close to the mark.

Anonymous said...

No matter how much gets done to tackle the problem of drugs in the Nicolson Institute, which is a minor problem, it will never be resolved to Angus Nicolsons so called "standards". I'm a pupil in the Nicolson and who knows the situation in the school better than the pupils themselves? Angus Nicolson needs to realise that this blog simply slags off a matter that he clearly knows nothing about..

Anonymous said...

7:01 PM Don't be absurd. I'd say 'grow up' but will excuse you because of your youth, on that point.

Foot-loose said...

Well done Kenneth MacKay, you have done your homework, with others, and extrapolated national stats into the school population at NI which equates to 40 drug users S4, 20 in last month. Major or minor? Different people will give different responses, eg pupil, teacher, parent, GP, community worker or social worker.
This blog will have opened eyes and the research you have done contributes to the debate. I suggest you raise as an issue at next mtg of school council and suggest a confidential questionnaire for all pupils on drug abuse. I am sure you are capable of compiling this, with some help from other pupils/guidance staff. An analysis of responses will help identify the extent of the problem and also how the school should be responding, in terms of say general policy/strategy, individual interventions, and importantly informed discussion and awareness-raising of the problem. You could become a social science researcher!

Anonymous said...

As a pupil of The Nicolson Institute right now, i am shocked and angry that someone would have the cheek to right this. Unless they are in the school on a daily basis, they have no idea about what is going on. I haven't heard from anyone that there is a "major drugs problem in the school" and do you not think that if there was everyone would know about it. It is only a small minority of pupils that are ruining the reputation of the school and many of these comments are totally unfair and biased. Also, the large majority of teachers within the school are fantastic. They are great teachers with good teaching methods, encouraging and are easy to get along with. Ask the school pupils and they can confirm that sex education is being taught. Many of you posting on here should be ashamed of yourselves. We are just trying to defend our school and all you can do is point out silly little errors and try and put us down. Grow up !! I, as a pupil am proud to go to the Nicolson and i feel that many pupils will get much further than some of you people are insinuating.

Anonymous said...

I'm another pupil, and i was really shocked to read this. I think that the school is amazing, and anybody who thinks otherwise can do so.. its their opinion but you cant call this a debate if people are slagging others off when they're clearly in the wrong? A small handfull of people do take drugs, but do they stroll about the school high as a kite? No. They dont.. because if they did then something would be done about it.

Most mornings, the police are at the bus park with the sniffer dogs. They search people as they come off the busses and are even there at the end of the day too. Its one of the ways to tackle the problem. The way some people are talking about the school, its as if the Nicolson Insitute is the only school in the world which has its problems. That doesnt mean its a bad place.

Anonymous said...

Strange how so many of the "shocked and outraged" comments seem to have the same spelling and grammar mistakes. Either there's rather less "shocked" people than appears at first sight, or the standard of literacy in the NI is universally poor...

Having a look at the last two comments:

i am -> I am

the cheek to right this. -> the cheek to write this

Unless they are in the school on a daily basis, they have no idea about what is going on.

Incorrect.

I haven't heard from anyone that there is a "major drugs problem in the school" and do you not think that if there was everyone would know about it.

No, as that isn't how drug selling operates.

It is only a small minority of pupils that are ruining the reputation of the school

I'll take that as an admittance that there *is* a problem.

Many of you posting on here should be ashamed of yourselves. We are just trying to defend our school and all you can do is point out silly little errors and try and put us down.

You and your friends with an identical writing style need to learn to debate and to accept that other people may have a different opinion to you. As you will discover in the future, this is part of becoming an adult.

Grow up !!

Pot, kettle, black, child...

I, as a pupil am proud to go to the Nicolson and i feel...

-> I feel

...that many pupils will get much further than some of you people are insinuating.

Many pupils will indeed go far. No-one has said that the school will produce a year full of delinquents. Only in your head has that - incorrect - interpretation occurred.

Next...

i was Hmmm. That again. I was.

its It is. Dear God, please improve before you take your highers. This is basic stuff and this alone will lose you a place in many academic or business organisations.

their opinion but you cant call this a debate if people are slagging others off when they're clearly in the wrong?

No; you and your erm friends with strangely identical grammar mistakes are in the wrong, but you cannot handle someone else having a different viewpoint.

A small handfull -> handful

of people do take drugs, but do they stroll about the school high as a kite? No. They dont.. -> don't

because if they did then something would be done about it.

Of course. But if you read the original post - have you? - you'll discover that the central issue is drug dealing, not taking.

Its -> It is

one of the ways to tackle the problem. The way some people are talking about the school, its -> it is.

as if the Nicolson Insitute -> Institute.

Please get someone to proofread your CV, if you ever write one. Seriously.

is the only school in the world which has its problems. That doesnt -> doesn't or does not

mean its -> it's

a bad place.

No-one said it's the only school in the world with problems. Yet again, as has happened many times, you've invented or exaggerated someone else's comments.

Anonymous said...

Seriosly get a life. If you are sad enough to spend your time correcting spelling mistakes then you have a majour problem. What makes you think that the pupils are druggies? Do work there? No. Do you know EVERY single student there? No. As a fellow pupil of the school I was furious and most dissapointed to read this blog it's a down right disgrace that an ex-councilor such as yourself would do this.
(If i make a spelling error don't bother correcting it)

Anonymous said...

Oh and another thing, you went to the NI. How would you feel if an EX-COUNCILOR had the cheek to slag of your school and the students/teachers in it? i think you'd be pretty peed of.
( Again don't bother correct any spelling/grammer mistakes that i may have made)

Anonymous said...

man alive, stop nitpicking at every little spelling mistake other pupils make..

i think that it should be said that they are doing a great job at defending their school. most of the negative comments being written here are by men and women who grew up on this island, and who went to the exact same school. i think its pretty amazing that they care about the reputation of their school.

Anonymous said...

Many of these errors are just silly little mistakes. You are over exaggerating the extent of these mistakes. This blog has barely anything to do with the school "drugs problem" anymore !! It is all about the silly little mistakes. Have none of you ever made mistakes in your life or are you all totally perfect ??
The school is relatively small or at least pretty close-knit. Pupils know eachother from clubs or primary school or they know them from within their local community. So yes I am pretty sure people would know if pupils were dealing !! Also, pupils do mix with others from outside their group so one way or another, people are bound to find out.
I am not confirming that there is a problem. Read my last post again and you will see that I never mentioned anything about the school's reputation being ruined due to drugs. Let's get it straight. Pupils are letting the school down by doing other things, not drugs. Unless you are in the school on a daily basis, you will not know the full story !!'

Anonymous said...

Seriosly get a life. If you are sad enough to spend your time correcting spelling mistakes then you have a majour problem. What makes you think that the pupils are druggies? Do work there? No. Do you know EVERY single student there? No. As a fellow pupil of the school I was furious and most dissapointed to read this blog it's a down right disgrace that an ex-councilor such as yourself would do this.
(If i make a spelling error don't bother correcting it)


I don't have the time to fix the numerous mistakes you have made in just one paragraph alone.

No one does.

When you are cleaning the toilets in the bus station, as with your level of literacy that is probably going to be as good as it gets, reflect on your better school friends who focused on their work, went to university, and had prosperous lives ahead.

Anonymous said...

Oh and another thing, you went to the NI. How would you feel if an EX-COUNCILOR

-> councillor

had the cheek to slag of

-> off

your school and the students/teachers in it? i

-> I

think you'd be pretty peed of.

-> off

( Again don't bother correct any spelling/grammer

-> grammar

mistakes that i

-> I

may have made)

Foot-loose said...

Topical subject-matter, as today's article in Sunday Herald:
EXCLUSIVE: Edd McCracken and Paul Hutcheon

Share 19 Dec 2010

One of Scotland’s most prestigious private schools plans to introduce military-style random drug tests among its pupils following a drugs bust on its grounds last month.

The move by Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh has attracted criticism from Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People who labelled it as “potentially damaging”.

This is the first time random drug testing in a Scottish school has been mooted since the then Scottish Executive rejected calls for them in state schools in 2006.

Merchiston Castle – where boys can be charged more than £8000 a year to attend – confirmed it was seeking legal advice on whether it can introduce them. It follows a pupil being removed last month for drug possession. Police were called to the school on November 24 following the discovery of cannabis in a 15-year-old boy’s study. The boy’s parents removed him from the school before he could be formally expelled.

Is this proposed action too extreme...too right wing ... does it infringe pupils' rights? Let's have more views from NI pupils. Drug abuse in schools is no respecter of social class ...nor confined to the W Isles.

The relevance and appropriateness of this blog clearly now confirmed. Is Kenneth and his pals making any progress with drafting a school "Questionnaire"? Anonymity of course will have to be observed.

Anonymous said...

Shall we call it a day with this one?

Anonymous said...

Shall we call it a day with this one?

No.

Anonymous said...

Yes, let's call it a day.

Before we do so, however, congratulations to the young people who defended themselves and their school. Well done to them!

As for the "adults" who went out of their way to attack the young people appearing here for the first time, they should remember that content is king (not spelling and grammar). To me their frothing over-reaction to the temerity of young people giving an opinion said something important about how we as a community treat our young people, i.e. be seen and not heard. In their over-zealous attack on spelling and grammar (without commenting on the content of what the young people were saying) seemed to confirm the sterotype Andrew Marr of the BBC spoke about when he passed on his opinion of on-line bloggers. He described bloggers as: "socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed, young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting. They are very angry people. OK - the country is full of very angry people. Many of us are angry people at times. Some of us are angry and drunk. But the so-called citizen journalism is the spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night".

Anonymous said...

11:25 said Yes, let's call it a day.

...and then immediately followed it up by a long-winded boring essay against those who dare challenge the views of a couple of schoolkids.

What a hypocrite; and an insecure one at that.

But that's been one of the running themes of this. "We're at the NI, so only we are allowed to have an opinion about it, and how dare anyone else have a say in any way."

Learn this; if you put your opinion out there, immediately followed by this "And that's the last word" or "No-one else is right, only me" tripe, then the credibility of what you've written is shot to pieces.

I have no problem with anyone else pitching in their opinion, young or old, right (IMHO) or wrong (IMHO). I do have a problem with keyboard Nazi's who (try and) dictate what can and can't be written. And, 11;25, you're one of them.

(btw the Marr piece you quoted is particularly sad; it's painfully obvious why it touched a chord with you? Can't speak for the others, but I am not angry, I have two houses - the computer is in the basement of neither :-) -, do not live with my mother and am off to have great sex with my girlfriend. Keep typing if it makes you happy / fills your evening :-)

Anonymous said...

11:25AM You wrote:

"Without commenting on the content of what the young people were saying"

Unfortunately that makes you a liar, as reading through the posts there are many comments in direct reply to what the 'young people' (bit patronising there?) were saying.

Probably best not to lie when evidence to the contrary is on the same webpage, hmm?

Anonymous said...

OH MY FUCKING WORD!
WILL YOU DICTIONARY BASHERS NOT SHUT YOUR FUCKING TRAPS!?

“Oh dear, you missed an apostrophe! You must be so bloody high you can’t spell you poor unfortunate child!”
“*GASP!* You spelt ‘multi-disestablishment’ wrong! You stupid, stupid little idiot! Your spelling is so atrocious you are fit to clean toilets and clean toilets alone!”

Are your training bras too tight? Maybe you should try one a size bigger (to accommodate the rapidly expanding waistline that you earned from your exercise consisting mostly of hammering furiously at the computer keyboard and your excessive use of the right-click for spell checker, perhaps?) so it doesn’t hinder the blood flow too much and cloud you judgement about what actually matters.

I suddenly don’t blame kids for shooting up when there are people so mind-numbingly pathetic as this looking down on them like they were imbeciles because of something so trivial as spelling.
Do you people not have lives? Did your angelically perfect spelling not help you make it as a journalist, because, apparently, this silly ‘content’ thing is more important?
Boo-fucking-hoo. At least those of us who end up cleaning bogs can get a fucking job.
Act your age, and we’ll act ours.

Anonymous said...

7:39PM If you have to lower yourself to use language like that, then you lost whatever argument it is a long time ago. You should be ashamed of yourself.

As is obvious, there are children reading this blog. Whatever your point of view, wash your mouth out with soap before typing again.

Anonymous said...

7:39

cloud you judgement

-> cloud your judgement

Anonymous said...

I came across this particular blog after hearing some other pupils talking about it one lunchtime. I must say that there is a drugs problem at the school, maybe not as extreme as some people may say it is but it sure does exist. The choice of words used here in various places is a bit far, then again, so are the claims that some pupils will be "cleaning toilet floors" and what not. I have not seen any comment left by a pupil which says that their opinion is the only one that counts, so whoever wrote that previously got that wrong. It isn't a bad thing that the pupils want to defend their school but they need to see that a small handful of pupils do seem to be taking the drugs. If the sniffer dogs are in the school grounds in the morning then that shows the school think there is a slight problem too, does it not?

I am not saying you are wrong or right. Nor am I saying that my opinion is the only one that counts.. just have respect for others instead of slating whatever they write.

Anonymous said...

6:06 PM Well said; a cool-headed and balanced comment.

This would be a good time to move on, perhaps.

Anonymous said...

I just love the fact you have judged me and others when you have no clue who we are :')I for one certainly don't intend to spend the rest of my days cleaning bus stop toilets.

Anonymous said...

As a friend of mine said the only reason you are picking up on our "spelling and grammer" is because you can't deffend the issue at hand. Come up with a come back then, or are you going to go through this passage with a fine toothcomb to find poxy little errors?

Anonymous said...

12:01/04 AM You are boring us, now. Let it go, and have a good Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Get on with your lives everyone - MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Naomi said...

I am deeply saddened by this post. I believe that it highlights a mere minority of pupils and lacks any real evidence. I have more than happily read it with a pinch of salt though as I have with many of your other posts, Mr. Nicolson.

I am proud to say that I was taught well during my six years at the Nicolson Institute. I had a sound education and a great security and safety net throughout my school years and even now whilst finding my way without the routine of school life. I know as well as you that there is a bad reputation for drugs and alcohol in this island but an under current of drug dealing in the Nicolson? Really? I think that a minority of pupils do participate in such goings on but I hardly think it is breaking news, drugs are common in today's society and picking on a small secondary is one way of highlighting problems in society though, I suppose.

Blogging about the island you live on in such a crude and insensitive way is one thing you have accomplished, highlighting what goes on in The Nicolson Institute is something you haven't. You, and anyone who agrees with this post, should take a minute or ten to think about the people who dedicate and do more for the school and children of this island than you ever have or will before you make these unfounded comments :)

Anonymous said...

There certainly was cannabis dealing going on in the Nicolson in 2008. I passed on this information to the police, and it looks like they acted on it.

Anonymous said...

Is this the same school where they built a cage to put an autistic pupil in?

Anonymous said...

I attended this school & now I have 2 children there. This school has many problems that no-one wants to know about. Whether they are really unaware of them, dont want to tackle them because they dont know how or choose to ignore them, i do not know.
I personally think that, along with alcohol & drug issues, the school operates a double standard. 'Good' children are treated differently to 'bad'. Last year one of the many school bullies picked on a good kid. The good kid stood up for himself & got excluded for it (he had never been in trouble in his whole life)the bully got away with it.
Has anyone looked up the schools exclusion record? I did, and was amazed how much the figures have gone up year by year. When the last xbox/playstation game was released 4 children (that I know of) got excluded on purpose so they could spend all day playing their new game. What message are they sending?
Also, if your child is good at athletics, football, shinty or rugby then they prefer for the child to take time off to represent the school, but do not help the child catch up on the work they have missed.
Finally, there are some teachers that should not be teaching.

Anonymous said...

I have read through all the comments as we were hoping to relocate to Lewis soon with teenage children who would attend the school.
Some of the students have responded in a mature and articulate way, that is great to see but on the strength of what we have read, we are definitely reconsidering our move which is sad.