NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

North Ronaldsay Primary School loses its only pupil

Teigan Scott Image copyright Orkney Islands Council
Image caption Teigan Scott is moving up to secondary

A remote Orkney island primary school is to lose its only pupil, raising fears about its long-term future.

North Ronaldsay Primary School's single classroom will be kept on standby from August as Teigan Scott, 12, moves to secondary in Kirkwall.

Orkney's most northerly island only has a population of about 50 people.

Orkney Islands Council said the school would be brought back into use if more families with young children moved to the island.

The building is also used by community groups.

Island residents have blamed poor transport links for the lack of young families.

Teigan told the BBC she was looking forward to moving on to secondary but worried for the future of her former school.

"I am excited to go up to the bigger school," she said.

"But I have a tiny little drop of sadness because the school will be closing and the island might fall apart."

Image caption North Ronaldsay is Orkney's most northerly island

Councillor Kevin Woodbridge said the population on North Ronaldsay had halved since he arrived in 1977.

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."

Image caption The number of people living on North Ronaldsay has been declining

Billy Muir, chairman of the community council, said the loss of the school's only pupil was "a very serious blow for the community and 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."

Poor links

A spokesman for the local authority said: "North Ronaldsay Primary School's single classroom is part of a building housing a range of community facilities.

"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.

"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."

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