Tiny Orkney Primary School Set To Lose Only Pupil
A tiny primary school on one of the Orkney islands is about to lose its one and only pupil, casting doubt on its future.
North Ronaldsay is the northernmost island in the Orkney archipelago of Scotland and is home to just 72 people. The island's primary school has a single classroom, which will be kept on standby and brought back into use if any other young families moved to the area.
Teigan Scott, 12, was the school's only pupil, but she is now moving on for secondary school in nearby Kirkwall, Orkney's largest island.
Credit: Orkney Islands Council
The building, although without pupils for the time being, is still used by locals as a community centre.
"North Ronaldsay Primary School's single classroom is part of a building housing a range of community facilities," said a spokesman for the local authority, to BBC News.
"The classroom will be kept on standby from August onwards and would be used as a school room again if a family or families with primary-age children move to the island.
Credit: Flickr/Donald Judge (Creative Commons)
"In the meantime, it will remain open for people of all ages in North Ronaldsay to use for a range of learning activities, managed by the local community association.
"This approach to keeping the room actively in use has been developed in discussion between Orkney Islands Council and a number of community groups in North Ronaldsay."
Councillor Kevin Woodbridge said that since he arrived in 1977, the population on North Ronaldsay had halved.
He said: "It's very sad but it demonstrates the decline on the island that has led to this.
"When I came here there were 17 people at the school and 127 on the island, now we have 50 to 60 people.
"The quality of life on the island can be improved considerably."
Credit: Flickr/she_who_must (Creative Commons)
Residents of North Ronaldsay have cited poor transport links as the reason for the lack of young families moving to the remote Scottish island.
Orkney is made up of around 70 islands, of which 20 are inhabited and of which North Ronaldsay is the 14th largest at 2.7 square miles. The island is home to around 70 people.
The only transport links to and from the island are a tiny airport that operates flights to three other nearby islands and a weekly ferry.
Billy Muir, chairman of the community council, called the lack of pupils in the primary school 'a very serious blow for the community' that 'no doubt will have a knock-on effect'.
He said: "We need new housing to be built and to get new families in. You want a number of kids in the school, not just one.
"Higher speed broadband is needed too.
"There's no point painting a good picture, we have to be realistic. Hopefully this highlights our problem."
Featured Image Credit: Flickr/Donald Judge (Creative Commons)