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A long way to go before it's policy

Highland Council's head of transition, John Fyfe, says: "The most important point to emphasise is that this is a pilot and there is a long way to go before it might become a policy."

"But headteachers in wee schools have a new role that is very demanding and they are torn between giving their attention to their classes and fulfilling all the onerous management demands. It's a very difficult job and we have had problems recruiting."

Mr Fyfe feels the pilot is going well but admits it is still early days.

"We would like it to work because the benefits are substantial, for staff and children. We think it's a better way of organising schools," he says.

In the future, he sees Staffin, Raasay and Carbost primaries becoming one school, with a non-teaching head. They would have the same buildings and class committed teachers as now, but there would be joint development planning and co-ordination of support staff.

Teachers would come together for curriculum development and social events and the children would also meet, with all the benefits of belonging to a bigger group.

"This is not a quick fix or a way of saving money," Mr Fyfe says.

"Calculations suggest it could be more expensive, especially in the initial stages.

"We have talked to the unions informally and I am briefing every primary head. There is a big consultation job to be done, especially with parents.

Nobody is going to be forced into doing this and anything that happens will be evolutionary."

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