Full council will meet this afternoon to decide the fate of Lionel School’s Secondary department.
Comhairle members voted in 9 to 6 favour of it’s closure last week despite local support to maintain the S1 and S2 provision at the school.
The Comhairle say the proposal to move pupils to the Nicolson Institute would have major educational benefits which are backed up by a report by HMIe.
The Save Lionel Secondary committee urged councillors to listen to the ‘heartfelt pleas of parents and pupils and the 1,200 or so people who objected to the proposal’ but felt the decision had already been made.
They said: “We have done everything in our power to save Lionel Secondary department but we feel that the Council aren’t listening. They have had their agenda from day one.
“Although councils can no longer cite financial reasons for school closures,we still maintain that this is a money saving exercise rather than concern for our children’s education.
“The comments from the Education committee meeting last week with regards to children not noticing a two hour daily bus journey, and that they could spend the time playing on their iPads/ipods on the journey, or use the time to do their homework, show a level of ignorance and contempt that some of the Councillors seem to have in regards to Lionel School.
“If they truly care for the educational and welfare benefits of the children then they will vote to keep Lionel Secondary open.”
Support to save the secondary has been ongoing in Ness and all over the island with one ex-Lionel Secondary pupil, and current teacher in Glasgow, Donald John Smith insisting keeping the secondary provision open would benefit the pupils.
He said: “There is no doubt that The Nicolson Institute has plenty to offer and has made progress since its last HMIE inspection and the Consultation report has made an excellent attempt at trying to sell the school to potential 1st year pupils coming from Ness.
“Yet, they have failed to convince me that the pros outweigh the cons.
“The Comhairle report says that there is no evidence that having a school in a community increases inward migration. But if you had a young family and were considering moving to Ness, would a school nearby be on your list of priorities? Of course it would! Having no school in the community, decreases the chances of inward migration!
“It is also claimed that at the end of a school day the school bus will reach Ness at 4.40pm (precisely which part of Ness, I am not sure). If a 1st year pupil was to stay on and take part in a supported study class or a sports club, then this pupil would probably have to get the bus which departs Stornoway at 6pm, getting to Skigersta for 7pm. This hardly leaves any time with the family and do any homework that is required of them.
“This is something I experienced when I was in 3rd year right through to 6th year and found myself exhausted at the end of the week if I was getting home late. Late nights will no doubt impact on a young persons health and wellbeing, especially 1st and 2nd years.
“I work in a school in Glasgow which has pupils travelling from the surrounding areas of Glasgow like East Kilbride. The uptake of those pupils in after-school classes is very low, because they live so far away and they complain of getting home too late.
“I really hope that Councillors see sense and keep the Lionel Secondary School Open not just for Education purposes but it is a vital part of the community.
“People have nothing against the Nicolson Institute, it is a very good school, but so is Lionel Secondary. There is no reason why they cannot co-exist so that pupils can take advantage of the small class sizes in their local school in order to prepare them for 3rd year when they are better prepared to cope with the long journeys and a bigger social group.
“I’m told the pupils from Lionel are successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. The 4 capacities of the Curriculum for Excellence.
“This has always been the case and if the pupil really is at the centre of the thoughts of those councillors then the decision is easy. Save Lionel Secondary School.”
The Save Lionel Secondary Committee added: “Their ongoing process of centralisation to Stornoway can only effect all other areas of the Western Isles in an adverse way.”