SCOTLAND’S smallest secondary school on a remote Shetland island will close its doors in July, it was confirmed today.
The fate of the secondary department at Skerries School was sealed after Scottish Education Minister Mike Russell decided against calling in the closure decision.
Last month, after a lengthy debate by Shetland Islands Council ended with a 10-10 tie on the future of the school, convener Malcolm Bell used his casting vote in favour of the closure of the secondary in a move which will save the local authority almost £74,000 a year.
Campaigners have claimed the closure of the school will drive away many families from the island community, which has a population of about 70. When the secondary department closes later this year, the three pupils will attend Anderson High School in Lerwick, spending five nights a week in hostel accommodation.
A spokeswoman for Shetland Islands Council said today: “Scottish Ministers have informed Shetland Islands Council’s Children’s Services that Shetland Islands Council decision of 11 December to close the Skerries School Secondary Department will not be called in
“Education provision at Skerries School Secondary Department will therefore be discontinued with effect from 4 July and pupils will continue their education at Anderson High School from 20 August. A Transition Group will now be set up, led by the Quality Improvement Officer for Skerries School, including relevant school staff from both schools. Its role will be to plan the effective transition of pupils, and it will ensure pupils are supported in getting used to the new environment at Anderson High School and the hostel.”
Councillor Vaila Wishart, the chair of the Education and Families Committee: “This has been a long and difficult process, and parents and pupils at Skerries School Secondary Department will undoubtedly be disappointed with the Ministers’ decision. However, we can reassure them that our main aim now is to make the transfer as seamless as possible, and to support pupils throughout the coming months.
“ I will be asking officials to look into the possibility of changing the ferry times so the pupils can come out on Monday mornings instead of Sunday nights as commented on by the Scottish Ministers.”