Britain’s smallest school Ronaldsay Primary to shut after student leaves
LONDON — A school in one of the remotest parts of Britain is to close when its one and only student leaves in just a few days. Known as the smallest school in Britain, North Ronaldsay Primary School will remain closed in the hope that its classroom will be needed at some time in the future.
The school bell will be silenced when Teigan Scott, 12, moves to a high school to continue her education.
But that will mean she will have to make the 20-minute air journey to her new school, Kirkwall Grammar School, on mainland Orkney.
The young student will pack her schoolbag early Monday and return each Friday to her home on an island with a population of around 50.
Local councilor Kevin Woodbridge says in a media interview that the population on North Ronaldsay, the most northern island in the Orkney archipelago area of Scotland, had halved since he arrived in 1977. He blames poor transport links and poor broadband connectivity, saying it affected the population’s ability to work.
Woodbridge says: “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. I think it’s totally down to the transport on the island. We only get fresh food once a week during winter.”
Teigan’s mom, Maureen Johnstone, says: “Teigan has just finished primary and is heading to Kirkwall Grammar School. She’s had a lot of preparation for the move.”
She says the school closure would be a big loss to the island, but her daughter would know a lot of pupils at her new school.
Orkney Islands Council says the school will be brought back into use if more families with primary school age children move to the island. The building is also to be used by community groups on the island.
North Ronaldsay is more than 1,200 kilometers from London. It is the northern most island in the Orkney islands, just 5 km in length, and spanning an area of around 700 hectares. The island is known for sheep farming, with its sheep eating seaweed in their diets.