Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Education, education, education

Fellow Lewis Islandblogger Peatstack gave a nice summary of the debate, intricacies and opinions regarding the proposed closures of S1 and S2 units at several schools in Lewis. This would see all secondary education, from age 12 onwards, centralised at the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway, with the aforementioned units at Lionel, Shawbost, Back and Sgoil nan Loch closed. Several primary schools would also face permanent closure.

To quote the West Highland Free Press: the Education Minister in the Scottish Government threw a tantrum when she visited Stornoway and had those plans served alongside her cup of tea. The reasoning given by the Comhairle is that the new curriculum, coupled to falling schoolrolls, would make external S1/S2 units economically unviable.

On Tuesday morning, local radiostation Isles FM alerted us to plans to build a new Nicolson Institute on greenfield sites to the east of the urban centre of Stornoway, i.e. at Goathill Farm and Mossend. It's probably a good idea, bearing in mind that the current buildings go back to the 19th century in some cases.

I just scratch my head at the closure of a school like Sgoil nan Loch in 2009, which was built at great expense not much longer than 10 years ago. I thought the S1/S2 units had been implemented to spare young pupils hour long bus journeys to and from school each morning and evening, to allow them to stay in their communities longer. Rather than shelling out on a wholly new Nic, couldn't some of the money be used to maintain the external units?

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