Comhairle defend Shawbost Head plans

Shawbost School.
Shawbost School.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have defended reports that Shawbost School is facing a reduction in head teacher provision.

The local authority insisting they have a proven track record in shared headships.

A proposal has been made to share headship between Shawbost School and Breasclete School but the council say the decision was only made due to a vacant headship at another Lewis school.

A spokesperson for the Comhairle said: “The decision to establish the shared headship arrangement between Shawbost and Breasclete Schools arose as a consequence of a vacant headship at Uig Primary School.  At that time there was a shared headship between Uig/Breasclete.

“We advertised four times locally and nationally/internationally and there were no eligible applicants. 

“We had a series of temporary Headteachers in post during this period and there was a clear need to provide stability and continuity.”

Shawbost School Parent Council have hit out at the plans which they believe arebeing ‘rushed through without meaningful consultation.’

In a statement the Parent Council said: “Our consultation as Shawbost School parents consisted of one meeting on 17 February 2015 attended by the Director of Education where several questions were not answered and he also made some contradictory remarks.  

“On one hand their reasons were financial and on the other it was educational benefits.  

“From the evidence gathered it seems clear that this intention was known some months ago and our Parent Council are bewildered as to why this did not form part of the agenda at our meeting way back in November 2014.

“We have no faith in the Comhairle’s Education Department anymore and feel let down as there were also several promises made during the previous closures and we have yet to see them keep these.

“Our school should always have a suitably qualified, experienced and appropriately remunerated named person in charge for the whole week.  “That is not a lot to ask to ensure our children are in a school which has the best possible management structure and hope the Comhairle will see sense and reverse their decision.”

Suggestions from the Parent Council that pushing through the shared headship could be a breach of Health and Safety guidelines has been denied by the Comhairle.

They commented: “We don’t accept that there are Health and safety issues. Headteachers may not be on site for a number of reasons and are well used to ensuring that protocols are in place regarding the health and safety of pupils.”

The Comhairle added: “The Comhairle have a policy of establishing shared headships in order to maintain effective leadership of our smaller primary schools in more rural contexts. 

“Shared headships are currently in place and working well between the following schools; Back/Tolsta, Uig/Bernera, Sgoil nan Loch/Pairc and Lochmaddy/Paible.

“In the past there have been shared headship arrangements across several other schools including, most recently, Eriskay/Daliburgh.”