Bernera School may be mothballed if councillors agree to a report on its roll.
A proposal to ‘mothball’ education provision at Bernera School on Great Bernera, from August 2021 is set to be considered at next week’s meeting of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Education, Sport and Children’s Services Committee.
A report on the move, due to be considered by councillors, states that after a period of ‘relative stability’ the roll of the school has fallen in recent years and is projected to continue to fall in the immediate future.
The expected roll for 2021-22 is three pupils in P6-7, and future projections indicate that there is no likely new intake to the school in the coming years.
The authority’s Director for Education, Skills and Children’s Services began an initial consultation with parents in November 2020, according to the report, when it became clear that the roll was falling to ‘a low level’ in 2021, and states that ‘there was agreement that, in the educational interest of their children, the school should be mothballed from August 2021, with provision moving to a neighbouring school’.
The report states: ‘After consultation with the parents of the three children expected to remain on roll in 2021-22, there was universal agreement that their education and developmental needs would be better met in within a larger cohort of pupils and it was subsequently agreed that Bernera School should be mothballed’.
As the next nearest school by road distance is Breasclete School, the Comhairle’s report confirms, existing pupils may transfer enrolment to Breasclete School or make a placing request to another school.
The decision to mothball the school will be reviewed at least annually, and should a viable roll not be re-established within a period of approximately three years, the Comhairle will move to consult on formal closure.
The report also confirms that mothballing education provision at the school will reduce annual operating costs by an estimated £40k, and opportunities for redeployment have been identified for all affected staff.
For the 2020-21 session, the school has six pupils across P4-7, four in Gaelic Medium and two in English Medium. Three of the pupils are in P7.
The Committee is due to meet on March 23.