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Just seen The Pictish Trail at Green Man festival – was my favourite act, great performance from am the band with great front man Mr Johnny Lynch! Fantastic!
Interesting to see that St Donnan’s still exists – not much different from the ‘photo I took when I was there.in 1955. At that time,the resident priest was in ill-health and the local Diocese needed to take him (unwillingly as far as he was concerned).off the island and recruited a priest from the London Oratory who had known him during the war to ‘lure’ him off ‘on holiday’..He, Fr Sir Hugh Barrett-Lennard Bt (qv), recruited a small group of 17 to 20 year old lads to go, stay in the rectory for a couple of weeks and generally explore the island. It was like going back a few centuries. Most notable: the friendliness of the Islanders; the fact that, in our tramping around the island, they would welcome us into their homes for tea and biscuits etc; the island historian who could relate the history of the caves as handed down through his family; the one lorry used to transport us across the island on arrival and departure; the telephone system run from the one local shop which closed down when the operator went home and left the island without telephone contact overnight and at weekends (STD did not exist); the wreck of “The Jennie” which had gone aground in 1954 and far more. Fr Hugh, known to us all as ‘slightly eccentric’, as a result of wounds suffered in the war, introduced himself to us as ‘The Pope of Eigg’ on arrival and was treated as such by the islanders. He returned for many years with different parties. He will be remembered by many of the islanders who lived there from 1955 onwards and, unfortunately passed away at 89 in August 2007, He remained a very good friend of our family over the years having performed his first marriage service after ordination for my brother and his wife followed by being transported from a nursing home to perform the 50th anniversary service as his last at the Oratory.
I remember Father Leonard well, David. My memories are not that great, but I have vague recollections of a young classical guitarist in one of the groups who played magnificently. I visited Father Leonard at the Oratory (late 90’s early 2000’s) but he was somewhat wandered. I took the picture one early January evening after Mairi MacKinnon lit all of the candles. PS the Chapel house was knocked down many years ago.
Due to the volume of correspondence Councillors received from our area, the decision to restructure our school cluster group has been deferred until the next Council meeting on 1st March. Without the letters and e-mails that you sent we would not have been granted this reprieve.
It was acknowledged that there was a failure in lack of consultation for our area. We are looking forward to a constructive process of meaningful consultation in the forthcoming weeks.
This is to all councillors, MPs and to whomever it may concern:
Dear Sir/ Madam,
I am writing to you regarding the upcoming decision on the school re-organisation of the small isles.
Having undergone teacher training myself I feel very strongly about the issue and I don’t believe that education is an area where cuts and compromises should be made. After all it is the future of our nation which is determined by the children who attend today’s primary and secondary schools.
The proposed model would not only put the pupils to an enormous disadvantage, but also the entire small isles community.
Here are some of the possible outcomes:
Quality of school education will be undermined
Eigg and the small isles will be less attractive for families to move to and existing families may consider leaving the island
Recruiting future teaching staff will be difficult in a non supported teaching environment
There is increased likelihood of being forced to accept IT lead education for our children
Our currently unique thriving young community could be under threat
We ask that island schools be examined separately under different criteria from mainland schools and appropriate local consultation undertaken. This does not impact solely on education but the long-term viability of our community as a whole.
Thanks and best wishes
Having grown up in a small rural community, I have seen first-hand the importance of small schools and their amazing benefits on the education of pupils and the wider community. I have also seen how people are put off staying or moving into a small community where the schools are lost or threatened. I really hope the Highland Council re-consider these changes as I believe it would have a deeply negative effect on the small population of Eigg.
Just another example of decisions being made by people who have no idea whatsoever of the effects of their actions & even less interest in what transpires. Having more or less lost our medical service it appears that education is next to be attacked.
Is there a petition in place for me to sign?
Not yet Gemma – it’s all happened so fast we haven’t had time to set up a petition. At the moment the most visible way to show your support is to comment on this site or on the Isle of Eigg Facebook page. If the meeting tomorrow (thursday 26th) doesn’t go in our favour, we’ll be setting up an online campaign, with a petition.
Many thanks for your support
Isle of Eigg
I am shocked at these proposals and just cannot see how they are workable for island communities. Please reconsider a different criteria for island schools head teachers and think about the impact on communities futures and the rights of children to a full education.
This proposal, taken without any parent consultation or consideration of the uniqueness of island communities, is a genuine threat to Eigg’s growing population.
Already families moving, moving back or staying here have to contend with the fact that their children essentially leave home at 12 to begin their high school education.
This proposal would mean that our excellent primary education would be under serious threat which would discourage families with children from remaining on Eigg, new families moving here and leaving the island with an ageing population with all the problems resultant from that.
Our island has worked for 20 years to reverse centuries of population decline and the successes of these past 20 years are in genuine danger of being undone by a proposal that does not take into consideration the fragile viability of our island communities.
I urge highland council to reconsider, to consult, and to put a halt to this half-baked and ill-conceived proposal.
As Stuart has so eloquently outlined above, the implementation of these proposals by Highland Council would be disastrous for the Small Isles. The quality of education for island children would nose-dive, but additionally the trickle-down consequences for these already fragile communities would be immense. I would urge Highland councillors to reconsider this ill thought-out scheme for the islands.
Its vital that we stand against these proposals , its been done in such an underhand way , with zero consultation and shockingly a total lack of consideration for the effect on the island as a whole , its not just and education issue , i feel this will have serious long term reppercussions for the population of the small isles.
The purpose of education, as we have been led to believe, is to equip a child to socially, emotionally and intelligently face their future. The Management of Schools Proposal (26 January 2017) appears negligent in every aspect of education. Needless to say we are completely opposed to these proposals.
The Proposal appears to show no educational benefits, mentioning ‘there is a risk regarding the long term sustainability of some of our educational provision’ as though it were an afterthought. Can the Highland Council qualify this risk and indeed the efficacy of the entire project? Perhaps providing the precedent for this model and the thinking behind it – i.e. the educational journals or tests that the model has been based on and information on how the Proposal has been drafted – would be a positive start.
In addition, this turmoil makes a potential saving of only £750,000 (3.4.2), if we discard the ‘various caveats’, which, similarly, remain vague. We are not convinced this is a model that either manages the financial savings the Highland Council require or manages the educational prowess they seek to build-upon. Indeed, the potential ‘Business Manager’ posts mentioned in 2.3.1 offer more of an inclination on their intentions, which appear to be an attempt to consider the English system of Academies, where education follows a market model.
There are clear implications with regards to the Law that have been ignored. A headteacher has duty of care for their students. If a headteacher visits a school once or twice a term, it can hardly be said that they are upholding in any way this duty or create any meaningful relationship with island children. An effective school has an effective leader who is present and engaged with student learning. A headteacher often cannot be in one school enough. To increase this to four or five or more seems manifestly short-sighted.
Island teachers will have less support from a mainland headteacher, which is particularly crucial in an island situation where you are physically isolated. The NHS policy now is to limit their number of staff members in isolated positions, so it is surprising that teachers are not treated similarly. Clearly, teacher’s are our most valuable asset and we find it unbelievable that the Highland Council can treat their staff with such withering inconsequentiality. We wonder what statement they are making to a wider community vis-à-vis attracting employment to remote areas and Scotland’s position as a leader in the educational world?
With regards to a more ICT based community, we thought we had discussed this with the Highland Council’s previous proposal. To repeat, whilst ICT is used in the island communities, the frequent access problems are very frustrating for adults. For children in a learning situation, it would be debilitating. In addition, parents do not want their children to be dependent on computer learning. They want teaching to provide the best educational outcomes, which face to face teaching supports. In an age where children are increasingly absorbed by screens, are we wanting to reduce their learning experience merely to computer screens too? Not to mention the ongoing extra costs for teacher ICT training in ICT and equipment.
We are also highly frustrated with the shambolic consultation with parents (and teachers) on these major changes. The first we have heard about it is through article in the Press and Journal last week, completely disregarding point 2.2.1 ‘By taking time and continuing to consult locally…’. As a consequence of the short notice that Highland Council made public their Proposal, it is difficult to make our views known and too difficult to get to any meetings in person. Having recently successful promoted an inclusive headteacher recruitment process and established a new, media-savvy recruitment for Muck, it’s disappointing to return to a Victorian classroom approach of communication. An open consultation rather than a cloak-and-dagger method would have been far more productive. In 3.5.2 the proposal highlights the need ‘to ensure they work for the local context’ and ‘a communication strategy will be required to be developed to ensure all key stakeholders are fully informed’. However, the parent council has not been consulted about these proposals.
However, the most disastrous effect of this proposal is for the Island itself. New families are the lifeblood of any community. With these proposals, it is unattractive for new families to move into the islands, while a number of existing families would consider leaving should these proposals come into effect, which impacts the whole viability/economy of the islands, a community which currently is positive and growing, effectively reducing the Island to a sea of second homes.
We understand that this proposal is put forward as a trial, but island schools being lumped-in with mainland schools is not pragmatic. Island communities have their own unique issues, particularly to do with transport and travel. Indeed, less students at Primary schools in the area mean less students going to the High School, negatively impacting on the Mallaig High school and Mallaig community too, ignoring point 4.6 which states ‘the revised provision must ensure sustainable provision for children, families and staff’. To start with, this proposed model immediately removes two children from the school.
The Small Isles do offer a challenge, but then what part of education and an educational experience is determined by homogeneity? Eigg, in particular, is lauded for its success and individuality, currently gearing-up to celebrate 20 years since the buyout. There is the possibility to make the Small Isles a flagship educational model (especially for those other ‘difficult’ remote schools), but not if there is a half-thought-out model being dumped on a community at the last, Machiavellian moment. It has the hallmarks of a plan that has not even attempted to join the dots, has not taken into account previous educational steps in the Highlands and has clearly not thought about educational thinking.
Stuart that gave me goosebumps. Very very well said sir..
I think these proposals are outrageous and the manner in which they have come about about appalling, you cannot simply spring this upon us at the start of the week only to decide on the following thursday. You obviously think we wouldn’t care, or just roll over and accept? We do care ! And we won’t accept this. I am a father of an 8 month old and whilst he is not in school now , he soon will be along with 3 others in a similar age category. This is not fair to me my partner or my little one . If there is no education we may well have to move . Or educate them ourselves . Which may actually be better. We have young people in our school we have dedicated staff members and a thriving community to go with it. It is truly unique and one of the many reasons why I live here. Why anybody would want to change this completely baffles me. It’s not fair and it’s not right. Who ever is in charge of these proposals seriously lacks a moral compass and is only thinking of saving money, when in fact it won’t. Think of all the private charters that will have to be made. Think of all the charters missed . Our children have a right to an education and you as government or counsellors or whatever you snakes call yourselves are failing them. It will destroy everything
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