Tag Archives: education

Note of second meeting of Tiree Renewable Energy Skills, Education and Training Group (RESET) 26/3/12

Present- R Thornton (by ‘phone), D Campbell, T MacKenzie, , S Isaacson, J Smith

Apologies- K MacCallum, W Wright

1. Introduction

· It was agreed that the action points from the last meeting would be taken as part of the discussion

· It was agreed that any funds provided by SPR for RESET in Tiree during 2012/13 would be allocated by an ad hoc group consisting of 2 representatives from SPR, 2 from TCDT and 1 from Tiree High School.

The funds would be channelled administratively through TCDT, subject to their formal agreement.

· It was agreed that RESET funds would be available to anyone eligible who was over 16 years old and for disciplines that were related to employability in the renewable energy sector. Such disciplines would include all aspects of engineering, pure and applied sciences, business, management, IT and appropriate vocational training/education. Further basic eligibility criteria would also require to be developed in a set of formal rules for the initiative.

2. Estimated demand

· Jayne had previously confirmed that any support from SPR for RESET would not affect other potential funding for post-school students.

· It was assumed that the eligibility criteria would define a workable ‘Tiree connection’

· It was estimated that approximately 7 students on the current roll of THS would be looking to pursue RESET-related activities post-school in 2012/13 and 2013/14.

· Sophie reported that the post?school sector was more difficult to quantify but it was agreed that approximately the same number of individuals over the two years would be the maximum.

· This would give an estimated maximum of 7 or 8 individuals potentially eligible for support over each of the next two years.

3. Budget

· £10,000 would be available for 2012/13 with the intention that the same would be available for 2013/14.

· If numbers eligible for support were as above this would enable a maximum of approximately £500?£750 per annum to be awarded to individuals for full-time year- long courses (or parts of courses) with correspondingly smaller amounts for one-off, part-time or short courses.

4. Other related activities

· It was agreed that if any individual planned to pursue teacher training which could potentially lead to wider RESET-related subject choice in THS then that would also come within the definition of RESET.

· It was also agreed that any Tiree based community group wishing to promote RESET would be eligible for support from the initiative.

· Ralph confirmed that it would not be possible for SPR to make work experience placements available to any THS students in session 2012/13.

· Ralph confirmed that, in the event of a visit to Whitelee Wind Farm being part of the 2013 THS EIL excursion, SPR would be willing to consider supporting the related transport costs.

· It was agreed that, apart from the support for certain teacher training courses, the issue of improved subject provision was outwith the scope of the initiative.

5. Community RESET Event

· It was agreed that a further event, similar to that in September 2011, would be useful and that June 2012 would be a suitable time for it. Sophie had begun planning the outlines of such an event. SPR would support the event as much as possible and Donnie would liaise with Sophie. It was agreed that it would be ideal to time the launch of the initiative to coincide with the community event.

6. Actions for next meeting

· Progress to have been made on organising community RESET event? Sophie and Donnie

· Clarification of how TCDT would administer the annual RESET funding?Donnie to speak with Andy Wright.

· Production of draft rules for the initiative?Donnie

· Distribution to all, for information, of Rules and Constitution of John MacLean Scholarship, of which Donnie is a Trustee.

An Open Letter To The Community

Dear all,

…the cycle continues until there comes a day when there is no secondary education on Tiree

I have been a member of the Parent Council and PTA for the last decade. The one issue that has consistently risen over that time has been the funding and security of the Music post. I do not need to tell anyone who truly knows the island how important this post is. Tiree continues to produce musicians of national renown thanks to the commitment of Joyce MacInnes and the Music Club, We now have the opportunity, through our community turbine, to secure this post and have a post which reflects the time required to ensure all our children, primary and secondary, have an opportunity to access music from an early age.

I have discussed this with parents, the education authority, Trust Directors and the wider community. As time is moving on and I want to submit a formal application to the Windfall, I need to ensure that this proposal has the majority support of the community. As a community we have to take a spoonful of reality where our school is concerned. If we do not intervene to enhance the post it will be advertised at 0.5, a half-time post!

The proposal involves a partnership with Argyll & Bute Council with the personnel management of the process handled by them. I am not naïve and I am sure there will be negotiation to ensure we receive the best possible outcome for our children by part funding the post.

Now, before the cry goes up about funding teachers posts, here is my argument. We have a small roll of secondary children – this year it is under 30. This is one of the reasons that we have fewer subject choices. Less children equates to less teachers which equates to less subjects. This will not change until the roll rises. There begins a cycle – parents not satisfied with the choices for their children, the educational experience becomes limited because of the system and structure of the educational model… Already I am hearing of parents choosing to educate their children elsewhere, therefore when these children go the school roll drops further, so we have even less teachers and even less subjects, and the cycle continues until there comes a day when there is no secondary education on Tiree and Argyll & Bute Council did not even have to discuss closure because we managed to do that all by ourselves!!!!!

We are not talking about a huge amount of money. In relative terms that means we are looking for 7.5% of Tilley’s earnings. The comments people have contributed have been very thought provoking.

One comment is that we have plans, funded by Tilley, for new buildings and expansion of existing buildings, yet as a community we are happy to send our children to one of the worst buildings on the island.

Another comment was that we should not fund teaching posts until the school is restructured. What I have learned, often painfully, is that trying to introduce new ideas into an entrenched system is similar to trying to swim up Niagara Falls!!! The structure of the school will be changed because there is a move away from the traditional model.

The comment was made that if we fund one post we may end up funding other subjects. Where does this stop? Well, we have to start somewhere and if the outcome of funding teachers is that we may end up with a school that attracts families and even becomes a centre of excellence, then why not?

If you support this proposal please drop in at the surgery, stop me on the road, and tell me your views.

Kate MacCallum

Retired after 39 years – Good luck Jessie

Jessie Gray

Depute Head in charge of Primary and Pre 5, Jessie Gray, retired last week after 39 years as a teacher.

Jessie started her teaching career on Tiree at Hillipol Primary School before moving to Dunoon.
She returned to Tiree in 1990 to take up the position of Depute Head teacher.

Now that Jessie has all the time in the world she is planning to pursue her hobbies of travelling sewing and golf.

Thanks to Tiree – The Island, The People, The Experience

Once again I’d like to thank everyone on Tiree for helping make Inveralmond Community High School in Livingston’s annual trip another success. All of the youngsters had a great time and many have said they want to try and come back at some time with their parents.

Particular thanks are due to Monica and Lesley at Hynish who, as usual, make Alan Stevenson House such a great place to bring a group to. Thanks also to William Angus and his crew at Wild Diamond Windsurfing, the airport firemen, Kennedy’s coaches, McLennan’s, McLeod’s, Cal-mac staff, and the many patient motorists who put up with the long ‘snake’ of 28 cyclists!

One of the activities the group did was a clean up of the beach at Happy Valley, bringing back over 20 rubble sacks of assorted rubbish. Included amongst this was a bottle, found by one of the girls, Beth Rocca, which contained a message. Although much of the message was faded, there were contact details there and some information which revealed that the bottle had been launched from Newfoundland in June 2009.

Beth with her message in a bottle

Beth, pictured with the bottle, has emailed the person who has launched it and is quite excited about getting a reply. Thanks again to everyone who helped give these youngsters, who are more accustomed to a big town environment, the opportunity to sample a world that is very different from their every day experience.

Tiree High School :: Staff Cut Update


It was an indication of the concern felt by all islanders, that despite the shortness of notice, over 130 people attended the hastily called public meeting to discuss the cuts to the number of teachers at Tiree High School and possible implications this might have.

Head Teacher, Myra MacArthur explained that the cuts have had to be made in the years above Pre 5 and after discussions with the staff they had identified where 2.2 teachers could be lost and the effects of this.

One teacher from the primary department will not be replaced when she leaves and no-one will be taken on to fill in for the French teacher whilst she is on maternity leave. The teacher of Physics will work four days per week, and there will be a newly qualified teacher “in training”. As at the present there will be no Gaelic taught to learners in primary and the teaching of the Upper Gaelic Class will be shared between the teacher in training and existing staff. Next session there will be no French offered as a subject course.

Obviously in a small island school the loss of a member of staff has implications through the whole school;
in this case remaining teachers will all face changes to their roles, the English teacher will spend two days in Primary which means losing 2 days from secondary. There will also be a loss of management time from the Primary & Secondary Depute Heads’ schedules.

the school will do everything possible… with the staff it has

Miss MacArthur stressed “that the school will do everything possible to provide the curriculum and width of learning with the staff it has. Argyll & Bute council need to make these spending cuts, they’re happening everywhere, we have to decide how best to spend the money available and where to make cuts. Although we have expressed our opinion of this we must now make the best of the situation.”

Steve Thomson on behalf of the PTA said this week; “The response from Islanders has been great, councillors are listening to what has been said, we are waiting for a group of Councillors and Officials to come to Tiree to explain their policy. Having such good support will make a difference to meetings with the council. We must maintain the core curriculum – formulas that are applied to mainland schools don’t work on small islands.”

The date of the next meeting will be arranged as soon as conveniently possible, let’s hope as many people will turn up again to continue to show support.

BBC’s L.A.B coming to Tiree


Tirisdeachs will be given a unique chance to experiment with video technology during the Fèis Thiriodh, turning their creative ideas into reality thanks to BBC Scotland’s digital media workshop – the L.A.B (Learn at BBC Scotland).

As part of the Feis’ 20th anniversary celebrations, BBC Scotland’s L.A.B travels to Tiree from Monday 12th to Thursday 15th July, giving students of preschool to adult age the chance to develop their digital media skills. The inspiration behind BBC Scotland’s L.A.B visit is to highlight Tiree’s unique musical heritage on film.

The first workshop (Monday 12 & Tuesday 13 July) will focus on young people aged 10 and upwards whilst the second workshop (Wednesday 14 & Thursday 15 July) will offer intergenerational experience for a variety of ages.

Amongst the skills on offer, Tirisdeachs will be given an introduction into moving images and how they work, basic camera techniques and storyboarding. Participants will also be taught how to use a dv (digital video) camera, given an introduction to editing skills and shown how to add music and sound effects to their movie.

The forthcoming Tiree visit is part of BBC Scotland’s Seaside Stories project run by the L.A.B (Learn at BBC Scotland) which will see the digital media workshop make movies with groups in Tiree, Dunoon and Millport. Johanna Hall, Project Leader at the L.A.B, BBC Scotland, whose family originally hail from the east end of Tiree, says:
“The L.A.B is delighted to be doing two workshops in Tiree. The whole idea behind the L.A.B is helping people improve or learn new skills working with digital media. In Tiree we will be encouraging people to develop interviewing skills, get behind the camera and, of course, have fun. We look forward to all the stories that the two groups will have to share. Having been to the island many times before in my youth I will be advising our team to pack both wellies and factor 50 sunscreen for the Tiree summer weather! “

Dr John Holliday, the island’s GP and chair of Fèis Thiriodh, adds:
“The BBC Scotland L.A.B workshops at this summer’s Tiree Fèis are an exciting development for young and old on the island. For several years our video classes in Gaelic and English have been some of the most popular at the Fèis and having this professional equipment and training will give our young people a real insight into the world of broadcasting. The wider island community will also get their chance to tell the story of life on the island – their story. It promises to be quite a week!”

Following the L.A.B visit, the Tirisdeachs video creations can be sampled at bbc.co.uk/thelab.

For further information on the L.A.B contact [email protected] or write to:
The L.A.B, BBC Scotland, 40 Pacific Quay, Glasgow G51 1DA, Tel: 0141 422 7896.

Concern over school cuts


Tiree High School Parent Council/ PTA has received the devastating news that Tiree High School must reduce the number of teachers it employs. The PTA held a public meeting At An Talla on Friday 14th May to discuss the possible implications for the school and the island.

An Tirisdeach contacted Argyll & Bute Council to ask for their comments on the matter and we received this response:

“Last year, a group consisting of secondary head teachers and the then Head of Service was set up to review the secondary staffing standard. The aim was to reach a standard which can be uniformly applied across the council area, which had not happened in the past. That standard, which involves a complex calculation based on a number of factors, is being used for all Argyll and Bute secondaries for the 2010/11 session. At the same time, all secondary schools have been asked to take their share of a £600,000 reduction in funding for secondary staffing next year.

Several years ago, Tiree High School was allocated additional staff to meet specific demands which existed at the time. This is the reason that it now appears that Tiree is having to make a bigger reduction than some other schools. Under the standardised scheme, and taking into account the budget reductions, Tiree’s staff savings target should be 3.5FTE. However, we have decided that this is not possible for 2010/11, and have instead identified 2.2FTE. There will be no effect on the subject choice on offer. Although the French teacher is on maternity leave, there are only three pupils who have requested French for next session and we are currently investigating the possibility of providing this through distance learning. The French teacher will remain in post after her maternity leave.

On Monday, the council’s Executive will discuss the proposal to carry out a fundamental review of our entire education estate which will look at what facilities we currently have, how they are used and how we might ensure they are more sustainable in the future.
This is in the context of a comprehensive education review that seeks to maximise the proportion of resources which are available for the direct delivery of education and minimise any risk of adverse impacts on education outcomes, and at a time when all of the public sector is under pressure to deliver quality services as efficiently as possible. Any future decisions can only be taken on the basis of the information which the completed review will provide.”

We also contacted Alan Reid MP who said:
“It is completely ridiculous to apply a council wide formula to an Island school. Tiree High School, along with other Island schools, should be treated as special cases and the council should have a more flexible attitude”

Feelings obviously run high on this matter, and a great many attended the meeting to find out what could be done by the community in this situation.

Allaying the Closing Fears

Councillor Mary-Jean Devon

Further to the article in this weeks Oban Times with regards to “Tiree named on school closure draft”, I am writing to allay the fears and concerns of the people of Tiree.

Due to the difficult financial time every council in Scotland is facing various efficiency options . As far as Argyll and Bute Council is concerned no decisions , discussions, meetings, or consultations have taken place regarding Tiree High School. As your elected member I can categorically assure you of this.

The infrastructure of Oban High School and its Hostel could not accommodate the pupils of Tiree High School as you will have read recently in the press. The Oban Hostel has just undergone a major refurbishment which allows them to accommodate 104 pupils. They are nearly at capacity presently as is the roll of the High School.

Please be assured if any discussions let alone decisions had been taken regarding Tiree High School I would have been in contact with the people of Tiree as they are the first to be consulted.

Please do not hesitate to contact me regarding this matter or any other issues you have.

Councillor Mary-Jean Devon 01688 302792 07912 949073.

Tiree High School

You will no doubt be aware of rumours circulating about the possible closure of Tiree High School. Whilst I appreciate that you are obviously worried by these reports, may I please assure you that no plans have been drawn up to close any school.

As we all know, difficult financial decisions lie ahead for all local authorities within the next few years.

Argyll and Bute Council has made it clear that the severe budgetary pressures will require it to review every aspect of its service provision, including education.

Those reviews are ongoing, and are likely to continue for some time.

Minister for Children & Early Years Visits Tiree High School

minister_childrenMr Adam Ingram MSP, Minister for Children and Early Years, visited Tiree High School this week.
Accompanying the minister were Cllr Isobel Strong, Argyll & Bute Council’s spokesperson for Education, Mr Robert Grant, Head of Service for Secondary Education in Argyll & Bute and Miss Alison Coull, Deputy Director, Qualifications, Assessment and Skills.
The group were given a tour of the school where they were able to meet some members of staff but few pupils as the visit coincided with the end of the day for pupils. Three members of the Parent Council also met with Mr Ingram and were able to voice their views on some matters relevant to the school.
S2 pupils worked on an interdisciplinary task last term, the culmination of which was an island tour which proved very popular with tourists last June. Mr Ingram and his group were given as much of the tour as time allowed before plane time and they were highly entertained and impressed by the pupils’ knowledge and presentation skills. Mr Ingram indicated that this had been the first time he had visited a 3 – 18 school and had been impressed at the initiatives that were being taken forward especially in the field of Curriculum for Excellence. He also felt he had been able to grasp some of the particular issues which are unique to a remote island school and its community.
(Adam Imgrams MSP pictured with High School pupils Siobhan Kyle Jordan MacArthur Kyle Munn Huch MacKinnon Sean MacCallum)

An Iodhlann – Sheaves From The Stack Yard


The 1872 Education Act took control of schools from the churches and set up new School Boards. On Tiree there were two Parish schools, in Heylipol and Kirkapol, and six others scattered around the island.

In 1873, the headmaster of Heylipol School reported that the new Board was at loggerheads:
“Very unfortunately for those who have children at school age, our School Board is not a harmonious body, and therefore instead of providing efficient schools with the utmost speed, they are wrangling, disputing, reporting, and protesting amongst themselves as to the sites of the new schools. The east end of the island is the part on which they differ. The majority wants only two schools, one about 1 ½ miles further east and another 1 ½ miles further west than the present Public schools.
The minority wants 3 schools, the present Public School and one in each end of the district, but they allege that the side or end schools may be of a lower class or less expensive while they would maintain the Public School in the centre as it is – a better class school to which the older scholars in both ends could go when they got beyond the qualifications of their own master.
The inhabitants of both ends object to being only supplied with an inferior school and master, maintaining they have a right to an efficient school seeing they pay the same rates with the rest of the island. The whole affair has been referred to the Education Board Edinburgh.
The division which this question has made of the Board is ominous. The minority (the minister, the factor and doctor) being those who under the former laws had the management of such affairs. The majority are Messrs Campbell, Hough; McQuarrie; and two natives being those called into management for the first time by the new Act.
The minority are all men of cultivated intellect who can always give a reason for their actions which will be intelligible to others. For the majority Mr Campbell, Hough is an intelligent and active minded gentleman who can maintain his own opinion against anyone, while Mr McQuarrie is a man of far-seeing and well-digested plans who generally thinks twice before he commits himself.
The two native members are simple minded honest men who I believe are quite conscientious that their votes are for the public good. They all agree that Cornaig or Kilmoluaig ought to be the site for the north end and the 120 or 130 scholars in the district calls aloud to the School Board to get up a school without delay. They propose to add a classroom to my school of which I stand in great need.” John MacFarlane, Schoolmaster.

Chomhaid mi timchioll

Chomhaid mi timchioll air eilean mo ruin N’uair bha a ghrian na h-airde Air latha samhriadh ciuin;
Bha m’agane sona le spiriod dusgaidh Gam leannachd san am sin Is e mo bheachd gu’n robh flaithneas Gu cinnteach faisg ri lamh

Bha’n t’shobhraig flur an aogais maiseach Ga’m thraghadh buileach bho thuighse saoghail ‘S no heoin gam lagachach ien rifid gleuste;
Gach fod buileach fo bhuaidh a ghrein A derrsadh le gloir na madainn:
O’s tric bhios fear siubhail nan crioch Fo buaidh an t-sealladh na chridh

Bi clann beaga na firichean a ruith sa leum Iad pailt don oige is gann do trioblaidean Tha ri aireamh feadh ar saoghal;
Nach buide do gach paisde tha fo Bhuaidh riaghladh na goraiche faoin;
Tha fios g’eil pairt aca anns an tsuimhneas Bu mhiann lean bhith dhomh dluth.

Bristidh tuinn air cladach ‘s gu fior Is e’n sgeul bi buan ‘S an uiseag ni a h-al a chuir air doigh Air reir an staid san am;
Ach tha mise an dith dhan t-sealladh suil:
Is gann don tuigisinn no toinisg seo, S nach nach bi mi buan.