Bri­tain’s small­est school Ron­ald­say Pri­mary to shut af­ter stu­dent leaves

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - YOUTH -

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.

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