Family planning

Another eight for Egilsay? Is salvation on the way? Orkney councillors were facing the usual fateful decision: what to do with the school on the small island (population 40) when the only two pupils leave for secondary.

The headteacher's post is vacant and the P7 duo have spent three days a week at the school on neighbouring Rousay and two days back home under the care of a teacher grandiloquently described as "Egilsay learning supportheadteacher relief".

It was not all plain sailing. The Egilsay two have been arriving an hour late on Rousay, although they have stayed late to make up for lost time.

Officials decided to give counillors three options, assuming they were dealing with the future needs of a solitary one-year-old. The options were appointing a teacher or headteacher on Egilsay, shutting the school and making Rousay the epicentre, or continuing with the part-week operation.

But, lo and behold, an English family may be Egilsay bound with their eight children. Another is on the way. Alas, only four are of primary age - although another two are under five.

Councillors, keen on the part-week option, would like to know if they are coming. All these costly children to be educated - whatever next. It's enough to make a finance department weep.

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