Education: School reopens for five pupils

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The Independent Online
Wanted: one teacher to teach five 11- and 12-year-olds. Salary: pounds 14,500 [about pounds 5000 below the going rate]. House available in crofting township (pop. 70) with no road or mains electricity. Needs to manage 20 volunteer teachers and the parents who run the school. The job would probably try the patience of a saint but the place is beautiful and the children open and articulate.

After four years, the parent-run secondary school in Scoraig, Ross and Cromarty, is to reopen this August. The Highland Council agreed yesterday to give an annual grant so pupils from the remote Scoraig peninsula will not have to travel 30 miles, including a mile by sea, to school. Because of travelling difficulties they have to lodge away from home during the week.

The grant to the reopened school this year will be pounds 14,500. At present, the council is paying pounds 6,800 each for four pupils for travel and board at a school in Gairloch.

Scoraig parents set up the school 11 years ago because they felt their 11-year-olds were too young to stay away from home. At first it was staffed entirely by volunteers, and a ruined church was rebuilt to house the pupils. But some parents felt that the school could not offer enough new faces and sent their children to school in Gairloch. The number of children of secondary school age also declined and by 1994 the school was down to one pupil.

Now, there are four 11-year-olds and one 12-year-old who want to attend school in Scoraig. The committee, mainly of parents, which runs the school applied for a council grant and has offers of unpaid teaching help from 20 of Scoraig's inhabitants - about half the adult population.

All that is needed is a qualified teacher. Topher Dawson, the committee's chairman, whose child will be one of the first pupils at the school, said: "Even though the local secondary schools are excellent, the parents are delighted that their children will not have to cross a mile of sea and spend all week away from home. By the year 2000 we may have 10 pupils so we are saving the council a great deal of money."

A telecottage will open shortly at the school to provide computer services for local people.

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