A Skye woman whose Primary 2 daughter has already had 25 different teachers has slammed Highland Council’s mismanagement of the school.
Edinbane School has had a turbulent decade.
In 2015, an independent panel rejected Highland Council’s plans to merge Edinbane, Knockbreck, Dunvegan and Struan primary schools.
Since then, Edinbane has had a series of acting head teachers. It has been clustered, at various times, with nearby schools such as McDiarmid, Knockbreck and Dunvegan. Edinbane currently shares a head teacher with McDiarmid and Knockbreck.
Head teacher Fiona Goss has now handed in her notice, which Edinbane School parent council chairwoman Aoife Gould says is “in no small part due to the lack of support or line management from Highland Council.”
The school does not currently have a permanent or full-time teacher.
It has a roll of nine primary and three nursery pupils, with a current P1 intake of four – the biggest in more than a decade. There are also four young children in the village due to start at the school in the next year or two.
Edinbane School parents left to pick up pieces on days when school shuts
In 2022, the school began shutting its doors on a number of days as there was no member of staff available to look after the kids.
“Often we found this out on the day, and there was never a suggestion that the pupils go to a nearby school, or a teacher come from one of them,” said Aoife.
Aoife – who says she has contacted “everyone in education at Highland Council from Nicky Grant [chief executive officer] down” – accused the authority of failing the school.
“Our previous permanent teacher had to go on long-term sick leave and then resigned after her phased return to part-time teaching.
“There were then a series of staffing decisions made which meant Edinbane doesn’t have a permanent full-time member of staff.
“We have lost pupils as their parents have removed them to different schools, such has been the lack of consistency.
“To me, education at Highland Council just doesn’t seem fit for purpose, frankly.
“There doesn’t seem to be any strategic thinking. It’s just ‘computer says no’, so we’re not going to look at what’s actually best for the kids.”
‘Every child has had the same revolving door’ at Edinbane School
She added: “There’s one class teacher from P1 to P7, so every child has had the same revolving door.
“The kids are amazingly resilient, but there’s days where they’re literally asking in the morning ‘who’s my teacher today?’
“Some of the older kids get quite a bit of anxiety because of the uncertainty. It’s a lot of pressure to put on such a young person. It’s something they shouldn’t have to worry about.
“There’s the stress on the families as well. People are having to make phone calls to their bosses after suddenly finding out the school has shut.”
In spite of everything parents and children have been through, Aoife described Edinbane as a “truly fantastic school.”
She praised the individual teachers who had worked at the school, saying they had gone above and beyond to create a “wonderful atmosphere”.
Aoife says the Edinbane parents are ready to fight to get the school – which she describes as an integral part of the community – back on its feet.
“If they’d been successful in shutting the school, Edinbane as a village would have died,” she said.
“The parents want to do all we can to fight for the school to have the resources and support it deserves because we all love the school, and our children love it too.”
Highland Council denies Edinbane has been mismanaged
A Highland Council spokeswoman said: “The council’s education service continues to support the school following staff changes at the setting.
“At present, there is a class teacher providing maternity leave cover for 0.6 hours of the week, and a supply teacher is in place for the remaining 0.4 hours.
“While the council understands some concern raised on changes to staff members at the school, we refute the claim that the school has been mismanaged and left to decline.
“We are responding to a changing picture and it is fortunate that there are staff members who are able and willing to step in to provide cover to the smaller, rural schools where staffing can continue to be a challenge.
“The council will continue to keep parents and carers informed with any future changes and thank them for their understanding and patience.”