MSP for Highlands and Islands John Finnie, has written to the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning and the Head of Children’s Services and Resources at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to step in and resolve the reported dissatisfaction of the sixth year pupils.
Mr Finnie stated “It has been reported that this week the entire sixth year at Sgoil Lionacleit on Benbecula requested leavers forms from the school. This was in response to the issues regarding the availability and timetabling of their subjects.
“The pupils who are in their last year of High School are concerned that the choice of available courses will hamper their prospects for University and College places.”
The Independent politician for the region continued: “I am deeply concerned to hear that the entire sixth year requested a leaver’s form from the school authorities, something that I have not heard having happened at any other school.
“The pupils actions speak loudly and clearly that they feel this situation regarding the courses must be tackled. This is not just a few pupils, but almost an entire year.
“I have written to both the Scottish Government and the Comhairle to implore them to take action to resolve this situation to the satisfaction of both the pupils and their parents.
“I believe that increasingly collaborative working across schools, and indeed across local authorities, utilising information technology must form a part of the way forward to provide a as wide as possible choice for our pupils to prepare themselves for university, college and the working world.
“Creative ways must be used to ensure the necessary cohort of pupils can be assembled to make subjects viable. It’s a system that works through the collegiate network of the University of Highlands and Islands and there is no reason, given a willingness, that it can’t work for the many schools with relatively small numbers across the Highlands and Islands.
“It’s vital that we maintain all our local schools and not allow a ‘we’ve always done it that way’ approach to hamper children’s prospects.”
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Director of Education Bernard Chisholm said of the matter: “I am aware of concerns by pupils and parents in relation to the introduction of the new timetable and subject choices for the S5/6 pupils at Lionacleit School.
“In addition, pupils have raised concerns about access to a common room. We are currently investigating these concerns.
“The current position is that: pupils do have a common room; no subject has been axed at the last minute. However, there have been changes to choices based on demand and/or staff availability; some advanced higher subjects are not available.
“This is not unusual and one of the subjects brought to my attention is currently not available in any of the Western Isles schools although we are looking at what alternative arrangements can be made.
“There is a Parent Council meeting on Monday evening and I would anticipate that concerns from the parents will be addressed at that time.”