Shetland primary Olnafirth to close in July 2014

Olnafirth Primary School on the Shetland mainland. Picture: Complimentary
Olnafirth Primary School on the Shetland mainland. Picture: Complimentary
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OLNAFIRTH Primary School on the Shetland mainland is to close in July next year after Scottish Ministers refused to intervene.

The decision will mean that Olnafirth’s eight remaining pupils will move to Brae for their classes at the beginning of the new school year in August.

Shetland Islands Council revealed today that Scottish Ministers had informed the council’s Children’s Services that the decision, taken in October to close the Olnafirth Primary, would not be called in.

The closure of the primary is expected to save the council £97,239 as its battles to slash a total of £3.3 million from its education budget.

A Shetland Council spokeswoman said: “Education provision at Olnafirth Primary School will be discontinued with effect from 4 July and the pupils will continue their education at Brae High School Primary Department from 20 August 2014.

“A transition group will now be set up, led by the quality improvement officer for Olnafirth Primary School, and including relevant school staff from both schools. The role of this group will be to plan the effective transition of pupils. It will ensure pupils are supported in getting used to the new school environment at Brae High School Primary Department.”

Councillor Vaila Wishart, chair of the council’s Education and Families Committee said: “I know that staff, parents and pupils of Olnafirth Primary School will be very disappointed but this decision will end any further uncertainty about the future of the school.”

Meanwhile the council has also announced that the authority is to go out for a second time to consult on proposals to close the Skerries secondary department on the archipelago of the Out Skerries to the East of the Shetland mainland.

Councillors postponed taking a decision on the proposed closure in October because of concerns that some electronic responses to the previous consultation process had been lost.

A council spokeswoman said: “The consultation report on the proposed closure of Skerries School Secondary Department has been republished today with an addendum, following the resubmission of responses. These were not received during the original statutory consultation process due to an issue with an online response form.”

She continued: “The consultation report recommends that Skerries School Secondary Department closes on 4 July 2014, and that the pupils transfer to the Anderson High School from 18 August 2014.”

Councillors will now meet again to decide the fate of the secondary school at a meeting of the Education and Families Committee on 10 December.