Tag Archives: school

Island Communities Take Action Against Council Library Cuts

The Council cuts have been described as ‘salami slicing’; this is throwing the whole sausage away

 

Tiree High School Parent Council and Tiree Community Council have issued a press release in response to the proposed cuts to the library service, which will result in the loss of library facilities in Tiree.

Tiree High School Parent Council, Tiree Community Council, and local residents of Tiree are furious over the Council cut to their library service, joining the community of Mull who are also up in arms about the proposal. Argyll and Bute Councillors decided, as part of their budget for next year, that Tiree, along with Mull and Iona, should lose their secondary school libraries. This decision has sent shock waves through the community, as the librarian on Tiree also serves the thriving primary school and the wider community. Paul le Roux, Vice-Chair of the Tiree Parent Council told the Oban Times, “We are appalled by this short-sighted decision. The Scottish Government has made the improvement of literacy and numeracy a priority, yet Argyll and Bute want to take our only public access to books away from this island community by removing our librarian at a time when use of our library by the community and children is growing year by year.”

A Tiree resident, who has children at the school but asked not to be named, said, “Tiree High School library caters not only for the High School, but also for the island generally, including Bookbug for under 5s. This is a community that cannot head down the road to another public library – it is our only library. Buying books online is not a replacement for a public library service. Not only does it cost money, but on the one hand we are encouraging children to reduce their screen time, while taking away the opportunity to be able to offer them a good old-fashioned book in its place. Tiree will be losing our library while Argyll and Bute Council reassures us that their hanging baskets will be protected – although I haven’t seen many of those on Tiree.”

Dr John Holliday, Convenor of Tiree Community Council, said, “The Community Council is outraged by this decision by Argyll and Bute, which is possibly in breach of their statutory obligations. If this cut goes ahead our nearest public library will be a four hour ferry ride and an overnight stay away. Our librarian, as part of our community school, provides a wonderful service for older members of the community, for many of whom their day out to the library is one of the high points of their week. It works both ways; the school pupils benefit from the books that the Library Service sends out to Tiree. The Council cuts have been described as ‘salami slicing’; this is throwing the whole sausage away.”

The two bodies are calling upon Argyll and Bute council to engage with the Tiree High School Parent Council and Tiree Community Council and to rethink their decision to deny their community this valuable resource. A petition has already been set up to gather support for all libraries affected in Argyll and Bute. You can sign it here:

www.change.org/p/shout-out-for-school-librarians-in-argyll-and-bute

School Sports Day

school_sports_2014The annual school sports day took place on Monday 16th June and to everyone’s relief, the day dawned warm and dry.

An event like this demands a great deal of planning and preparation and staff and pupils alike had been hard at work during the preceding weeks under the excellent guidance of Mrs Hannah MacKechnie who, in the absence of a P.E. teacher, had taken on the task of organising the day.

This year we were keen to recognise Glasgow’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games and this, coupled with the challenge of low pupil numbers in the Secondary Department, led to the idea of devising a whole school Commonwealth Games event. Mrs MacKechnie met with Primary Department teachers and Will Wright, our Active Schools Coordinator, and after much discussion and exchanging of ideas, the Commonwealth Games Obstacle Race was born.

The race incorporated all ten of the compulsory Commonwealth Games sports including hockey, boxing, swimming, athletics, weight-lifting, rugby and badminton. Some imagination and creativity was required, e.g. the boxing aspect of the race involved climbing through a box and our aquatic event involved carrying a cup of water to a basin with the team collecting most water winning extra points! In order to take account of the range of ages taking part, pupils in P.1-P.5 competed in the race first, with pupils in P.6-S.6 running a more challenging version afterward.

We were delighted that some parents and carers were able to attend the Commonwealth Race which took place during the morning of Sports Day. Primary pupils had painted flags representing various Commonwealth countries and these were displayed on the fencing around the all-weather pitch. It was good to see so many pupils putting in lots of effort and also displaying good teamwork by supporting and encouraging the other members of their teams. Every pupil taking part earned points for their House and at lunchtime pupils received a Gold, Silver or Bronze (coloured) medal for their efforts.

The afternoon brought with it the more traditional races and those members of the community who were able to come along enthusiastically cheered on the participants. The Flat, Potato and Spoon, Sack, Three Legged and Wheelbarrow races were followed by Relay races and Hockey and Football Dribbles. Before the grand finale, the Tug of War, took place the adults were given their chance to show off their sporting prowess – congratulations to Mrs Hannah MacKechnie and Mr Edward Campbell who carried off the honours!

We would like to extend our warmest thanks to everyone who helped to make this important day such a resounding success; to the families and friends of the children, to the Parent Council for organising a delicious range of ‘eats’, to all members of staff and to all of the children who practised hard beforehand and who gave 100% on the day. We are also sincerely grateful to Mrs MacKechnie who put in so many hours of hard work in order to ensure that everything ran smoothly and successfully. To you all, thank you, and we look forward to seeing you at Sports Day 2015!

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

The Year In Review

Looking back at 2010 shows that the year started quietly.

The main topic of conversation which divided opinion on and off the island, is the proposed off-shore wind farm, now known as Tiree Array, which caused heated debates and which I am sure will continue through this year too.

February saw the appointment of a new Police Officer – PC Tanner, and the wind turbine at Ruaig was given the name Tilley following a competition run by the board of Tiree Trust.

Following tests in April Tilley was officially declared “open”, with a naming ceremony at Ruaig, followed by a gathering at An Talla where Champagne was served followed by Tea/coffee and cakes. A dance in the evening was well attended.

Work started on the Ringside Theatre and Tiree Maritime Boat Builder Course ended with the full renovation of Morag- Anne and Daisy and the start of the making of a new copy of Morag-Anne.

The newly formed Ch@ room on a Friday evening proved popular with our youngsters as did the continuation of the Youth Club.

In March there were rumours that Tiree High School could be closed as part of Argyll & Bute Councils cost saving measures. This culminated in a packed meeting at An Talla in May being informed that whilst the school would remain open the number of teaching staff would need to be reduced. The Parent Council organised many meetings with council and government officials in order to minimise the harm that this would do to the education of our children.

Over 100 people took part in Tiree’s first ever Sport Relief Mile raising over £1000 for charity.

Highland Airways went bust and the flights from Oban to Tiree were taken over by Hebridean Air Services Ltd.

In May we heard that there was to be another island first –Tiree Music Festival was to take place in July. This turned out to be a huge success with performances from Skerryvore, Skippinish, Gunna Sound, Trailwest, the Defenders, Fortunate Sons, Crooked Reel, Torridon and a unique performance by the All Star Tiree Ceilidh Band. News of this year’s Tiree Music Festival will be announced shortly – watch this space!

A volcano erupting in Iceland caused disruption to flights all over Britain and Tiree was left for a number of days with no planes arriving or departing.

For those of a more energetic nature the annual 10k run in June involved over 200 people both locals and visitors.

The debate regarding Tiree Array continued with over 150 people attending a public meeting at An Talla.

2010 was the year of the 50th Anniversary of Tiree SWRI, a lunch was held at the Lodge Hotel to mark the occasion.

A group was set up to try to find a way to save the Thatched House Museum and although the original building has been sold there are plans to build a new thatched house museum and research into this is ongoing.

July was packed with the Art Exhibition, Feis, Agricultural Show and Dance, Sports Day and 5 A-side football tournament. Strenuous activity continued in August with the Regatta. Once again the Raft Race proved a popular if slightly ungainly affair and the Trawler race was fought out in its unique colourful way!

A Grand Black Tie event was held to mark the opening of The Ringside Theatre and film showings there over the following months have proved to be popular with young and old.

Another first for Tiree occurred at the end of September when a Northern Parula ( a small bird) stopped for a few days of rest. This was so rare that twitchers from all over the mainland arrived – some by chartered plane- to catch a glimpse of the visitor.

Although the winds blew strongly at the beginning of October, by the date of the wave Classic the island was left with barely a breeze and many activities took place on land rather than on the waves.

In October a new memorial was unveiled at Sandaig, to commemorate HMS Sturdy which had been driven onto the rocks following a storm in 1940.

Gordon Connel was winner of Music Tutor of the Year at the Trads in November and Skippinish Ceilidh House won Venue of the Year.

December saw snow lying on the ground for a number of days and temperatures struggled to get above zero despite the sunshine. The Christmas Party season banished the winter chill for a few days at least but a few days into January the snow returned to keep us on our toes.

Historical School Photographs

Cornaigmore school 1915

Cornaigmore School ca 1915, Headmaster Mr Ewan on right. The school mistress may be Betty Ann MacDonald of Cornaigbeg.

We have a number of school and form photographs –135 to be exact – but we are very keen to copy more,from long ago to last year.

If you have some, please let us know. We can copy it and get it back to you in a few days, and telling us who is in them is just as important.

Ruiag school

Ruaig School 1925-6. L-R: (back row) Robert MacLeod, teacher; Neil MacDonald, Brock; ?; ? ; Archie Falls; Charlie Lamont; Archie MacFadyen, Ardeas; Lachie MacLean, Vaul;
(2nd back row) Donald MacDonald, Brock; Mary Donnelly *; Morag Lamont; Peggy Nicholson *; Kate MacGill *; Annie MacLean (now in Africa); Chrissie MacInnes, Salum; Flora MacKinnon, Dunmore; Mary MacKinnon, Seaside, Vaul; Ina Anderson *; Donald MacArthur, Milton; Donald Archie Cameron; Miss MacKinnon, teacher from Mull;
(middle row) Hughina MacDonald; Flora MacLean, Caoles;
(2nd front row) Jessie MacGill *; Elsie MacKinnon, Lodge Farm, Kirkapol *; Lizzie MacGill *; Lizzie Barr *; Ina Falls *; Annie Lamont, Ruaig; Maggie MacKinnon; Lizzie Hobbins (cousin of Lachaidh Sheumais); Effie MacArthur, Roisgeal;
(front row) Neil MacLean, Carnan; Angus Lamont; Lamont twin; Lamont twin; John Falls *; Mark Hare *; David MacLean; John MacFadyen, Ardeas; Effie Berry (Donald Berry’s mother); Lachie MacFadyen; Ruby MacDougall *; 44 Willie MacIntosh.
(* boarded out)

If you can recognise anyone in this photo check to see if we’ve got it right!

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

books

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.

Concern over school cuts

books

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.

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