Published: 10/02/2017 16:13 - Updated: 09/02/2017 16:16

Melvich primary is certainly running a curriculum for excellence

SIR, What a wonderful afternoon of Scottish culture, music and song in Melvich Primary school this afternoon.

Guests were welcomed at the door by very polite and mannerly pupils who escorted us to our seats in the delightfully decorated hall. Much research had obviously been carried out into the works of Rabbie Burns, his life, his poems and his songs.

The children, dressed appropriately in tartan kilts and Highland dress took charge of the programme. Their confidence and ability would shame most adults. The Selkirk Grace, Address to the Haggis, and the Immortal Memory, interspersed with musical items was excellent.  Toasts to the Lassies and Laddies delivered in good humoured style was a clear favourite with the pupils and the dancing and singing of the Burns songs was greatly enjoyed by the inter-generational audience. Refreshments of irn-bru, scones, oatcakes and cheese were served.

Certainly “Curriculum for Excellence” in action here.

This was a fine example of village life in North Sutherland. A strong sense of community where the school is the centre of our focus, our culture and our values, which we are always trying to preserve and promote. Here we have a first class educational experience for our children in their home village among their own people and where the pupils and parents are noticeably proud of their school.

Why change something which so obviously works and is treasured by pupils, parents and community ? 

The new cluster scheme proposed by Highland Council has been tried here on the north coast on two occasions in the past and both failed miserably. In fact we are just recovering from the experience and our schools under the guidance of the Headteacher are flourishing once again.

Currently and over the past two years there have been no staffing problems so why interfere now?

It would be interesting to know just how much money will be saved by upsetting this little school and ultimately destroying the surrounding community.

 All the more important now with the imminent threat of closure by NHS Highland of the Care Centre at Sinclair Court, the loss of local employment opportunities and the resulting social isolation of the older generation. The alarming new NHS Highland arrangements for ‘out of hours’ medical provision and the withdrawal of several medical services at Caithness General Hospital leaves us all in a very dangerous and worrying position.

 In 2016, our rural location was recorded in the ‘Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation’ as at the 1st most deprived decile for Geographic Domain. Has Highland Council factored this into its calculations? How can we expect to attract young families or keep the families already here if there is a continual threat to the status of our schools, our Care Centre, our medical ‘OOH services’ and our General Hospital at Wick.

Inverness  and Highland Region Councillors should come and visit those schools and communities to see how they function and try to understand how they serve their communities before they make adverse decisions on which ones they will wreck for the sake of a few pounds. This is not Inverness or a big built up area with the ready choice of other facilities, transport and services. Because of our location we are different. We do not fit your usual criteria. But we are crucial to the survival of our communities along the north coast who over the years have had to struggle for recognition.  And our biggest struggle appears to be with the people in power who should be helping us.

How many Councillors apart from our own Cllr  Linda Munro have visited the North Coast schools?

Surely Tongue, Melvich and North Sutherland are entitled to a share of all the extra funding released recently?

There is no lack of money for the Inverness area where new projects are announced daily.

We don’t ask for much but where our children are concerned we will not allow them to be further deprived by an Inverness centered council who care little for the north coast. Reading the press today we learn that not one of our three local councilors is on the voting panel for this important matter. Why?

It would suit Highland Council better to be known as the Council who helped breathe new life into the North Coast schools and villages rather than the committee who took the heart out of our communities and created a new wave of Highland Clearances. Yes, it is that serious. History repeats itself once again in the name of progress.

I am a retired school teacher with 40 years experience teaching on the North Coast of Sutherland.

Janette Mackay,

Strathy.

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