Eigg Parent Council
RESPONSE BY PARENT COUNCIL TO
‘MANAGEMENT OF SCHOOLS – PROPOSAL FOR IMPLEMENTATION’
Eigg Parent Council would like to draw particular attention to two of the implications detailed in this proposal which Councillors are using to make their decision. These are:
4.3 Risk ‘If this project is not delivered successfully there is a risk regarding the long term sustainability of some of our educational provision’
4.6 Equalities and Rural: ‘It is important that these plans maintain/enhance the equity of educational provision across the highland area. In particular the revised delivery model must ensure a sustainable provision for children, families and staff.
In considering these implications we wish to make Councillors aware of the following impacts on our island economy, community, teachers, parents and children.
Impact on Communities:
We feel that this proposal will uniquely affect island communities. Of the 8 ASG’s, Mallaig ASG will suffer the greatest impact due to the lack of consideration for isolated island communities. We strongly feel that the proposal is not only a ‘risk to long-term sustainability of educational provision’ (4.3) but to the long-term viability of our island community.
- By lumping island schools with the mainland it is failing to consider the unique geographical constraints of island schools, particularly transport and travel. This trial makes no consideration for the fragile nature of island communities. It doesn’t just affect the schools, teachers and pupils, but the knock-on effect will impact on the future viability of entire island communities.
- New families will be discouraged from coming to the islands, and existing families may leave (including teacher families) – which will in turn affect the whole viability/economy of the islands.
- At a wider scale less pupils at primary means less going to the High School, so it has a negative impact on the Mallaig High school and Mallaig community too. It is in effect a “Highland Clearance”
- It will become increasingly difficult to recruit future teaching staff for the islands considering the above issues and therefore make it more likely that we will see islands forced into a situation of accepting ICT lead education – something that would most certainly lead to families leaving the islands, and undermining everything the islands have strived towards in terms of making viable, sustainable island communities.
Impact on Teachers & Schools:
- In the short term, the impact of piloting a scheme in Yr1 whilst delivering curriculum and newly implemented remote teaching methods seems an unmanageable solution.
- The long term proposals to have a school with limited island head-teacher presence and more use of ICT would have a disastrous effect on our schools.
- Our isolated location and reliance on ferry connections has considerable implications on limited head teacher face-to-face support their role for the welfare of teachers and pupils.
- The reduction of headship positions reduces career development opportunities and subsequent lack of interest to young promising professionals applying to posts within the Small Isles.
- It will become increasingly difficult to recruit future teaching staff for the islands considering the above issues.
- Expecting a mainland-based principal teacher to provide a day a week’s support for each of the four Small Isles schools using the Caledonian Macbrayne ferry service would mean they would spend more time on the ferry than in school and in winter more than likely not get out to the islands at all.
- Providing clerical and janitorial support from the mainland is impractical and unworkable, and also would remove two jobs from our fragile island economy.
Impact on Pupils:
- Impacts on teachers identified above will undoubtedly have negative impact on pupils, and knock-on effect on our community.
- We don’t believe this model can provide equal quality of education as mainland schools as it fails to take account of our unique island situation.
- ICT issues – whilst ICT is used in the island communities, there are always access problems, which is very frustrating and would be detrimental to a child’s education. Parents do not want their children, particularly youngest age groups to be dependent on computer learning, they want face to face teaching which provides the best educational outcome.
We are particularly aggrieved at lack of consultation and railroading technique used in this process on these major changes. First we have heard about it is through the newspaper article in the P and J last week. Due to short notice it is difficult to make our views known and impossible to get to meetings in person. This has led to a lack of trust and feeling of insecurity for our community.
We would ask that island schools be examined separately under different criteria from mainland schools. This does not impact solely on education but the sustainability of our community as a whole.
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