BBs not just for Gaelic staff

22nd October 2004 at 01:00
The suggestion from Dr Michael Foxley, Highland Council's vice-convener, that the loss of a key worker Gaelic teacher from Lochaber would be the loss of "a key worker from the whole planet" is a gross exaggeration.

If a teacher leaves Lochaber, that may be a loss to Lochaber, but hardly to the whole planet.

Furthermore, Dr Foxley might consider whether the loss of other subject teachers does not disadvantage the pupils as much as, or maybe even more than, the loss of a Gaelic teacher? At Mallaig, one maths teacher has lived in bed and breakfast accommodation for over a year; another stays in B and B during the week, returning to the family in Dumfries only at weekends; an English (probationer) teacher does likewise to Stirling. Mallaig High, a very good school to teach in, also lacks a technical and a music teacher.

The reason is that the accommodation situation, with nothing to rent and scarce or unaffordable private housing, is causing problems for more than Gaelic staff.

Mallaig is also losing its Gaelic teacher soon, which is regrettable. But, as he leaves for a permanent post in Sutherland, he is scarcely "lost" to Highland Council, far less to the "whole planet". Gaelic, valuable as it may be, is only one of three foreign languages on offer at Mallaig - and there are no valid alternatives to maths, English, music and technical.

Provision of key worker housing would help all of these.

H M Wilson Castle Crescent Closeburn Dumfriesshire

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