Edinbane survey shows support for local school

The vast majority of house­holders in the catchment area of Edinbane Primary School in north Skye do not want the local school to close, a recent survey has shown.

The local community council and the school’s parent council recently delivered a questionnaire to 164 houses in the area, 140 of which are occupied full-time, to canvass opinion on a Highland Council proposal that could close Edinbane Primary, which currently has a roll of six, and two others in north Skye — Knockbreck and Struan. A total of 83 forms were returned.

According to the results, 83 per cent of households surveyed do not want the Edinbane school to close. If the school were to close, opinion was split on the whether children should go to a new school at Dunvegan or the existing MacDiarmid Primary.

Comments posted on the Edinbane Community Company website include:

  • “Madness to close local school when planning permission has been granted for 20 new houses, not to mention new play park.”
  • “Although I think it would be very sad to see Edinbane close, I don’t see how it can remain open with so few children and a very poor prospect of future children moving to the village. I don’t believe a school with 5-10 children adequately socialises children or prepares them for the realities of High School life.”

Highland Council have employed consultants Caledonian Economics to conduct a Strategic Schools Estate Review of all associated schools groups in the Highlands.

The proposals for Skye schools have existed in draft form since December 2012 and were first presented to parent and community councils in Portree in October 2013.

Frances Maclean said this week: “I hope this is a representative survey and I am pleased with the number of people who took the trouble to return the questionnaire — it is an indication that people do care.

“One of the things that was interesting was the very clear divide in the direction people want to travel in if the school does close, as Caledonian Economics think that everyone from the Edinbane catchment area will be travelling to Dunvegan. The projected roll of Dunvegan combines Struan, Knockbreck and Edinbane, so if you have half the kids travelling in the other direction the Dunvegan school roll will continue to drop. Where does that leave their plans?”

She added: “Every single child that has a placing request for outside Edinbane is going to Portree. Maybe that is because of Gaelic-medium there or their parents work in Portree. But CalEc make no mention of Gaelic and don’t look for any reasons why children are travelling.”

The full results of the local survey can be viewed at edinbanecommunitycompany.org/ school.htm.