Skerries School

21st September 2007 at 01:00
(Photograph) - The small schools report makes familiar reading for one Shetland headteacher, whose school has been under threat for five years. Situated on a tiny archipelago, Skerries School (pictured) has a secondary department even though the islands are home to 75 people. Senior figures at the council have made several attempts to close the department, and a meeting this autumn is expected to decide its fate. The school has one nursery child, four primary pupils and one secondary pupil, as well as two adult learners who use the secon-dary department. In 1999, there were nine secondary pupils, but the department's uncertain future means families are less inclined to stay on the island. "People have moved away from Skerries because of the uncertainty," says Sheilagh Smith. "They don't want to lose their children for the majority of the week if they have to board aged 11 or 12." Mrs Smith also agrees with the report's finding that "juggling" time is a big issue but it is bureaucracy rather than teaching that causes stress, she says. Mrs Smith exemplifies the report's finding that heads in very small schools are settled and unlikely to look for posts in larger schools. She has been the headteacher for 15 years, and says: "I wouldn't want to be a headteacher if I wasn't also able to teach." Photograph: Henry Hepburn

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