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Last Updated: Friday, 27 October 2006, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
Plan agreed for all-Gaelic school
Sleat Primary School
The school will be all-Gaelic but will have an English unit
Highland Council has decided to designate Sleat Primary School on Skye as its first all-Gaelic school.

Councillors agreed that the school will also have an English medium unit despite claims that parents had not been consulted over the new plan.

Opponents had attempted to persuade the council to put the plan on hold so consultation could be carried out.

Education director Bruce Robertson said it was a workable solution which would satisfy all parties.

In a public consultation exercise, parents were asked to vote for full Gaelic status or the status quo.

It's the first time I can remember in 17 years that as a council we have managed to alienate both sides of the argument
Councillor Bill Fulton

However, the council came up with the compromise solution.

The debate over the school split the community in the south of the island.

Parents of English-speaking pupils, who were opposed to an all-Gaelic primary, criticised the prospect of their children having to make a 30-mile round trip to Broadford.

However, Sleat councillor Bill Fulton said traditionalists were concerned about English influence.

"They haven't got a Gaelic school," he told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme.

"They've still got English influence and English language in the school, so the Gaelic side of the world don't want that."

Neil Robertson, chairman of Sleat Primary School for All, said he was disappointed with the decision.

'Spineless attempt'

He said: "Obviously there is concern about the practical implications as regards the divisions of the school.

"Everything the council has done right through the consultation process was to polarise the community.

"For them to have come up with a proposal that we weren't consulted on is a great disappointment.

Sleat Primary School sign
The row split the community on the south of the island

"It's a spineless attempt at appeasement."

Mr Fulton, who had called for parents to be consulted over the new plan, said the director of education had now agreed to send letters out to parents to explain the move.

"Now he has got the decision he is going to speak to them," Mr Fulton said.

"We always said the views of parents were paramount. If the director of education had spoken to them a fortnight ago they might have agreed to it.

"I feel a lot of the unpleasantness was unnecessary and could have been avoided."

Mr Fulton earlier said: "It's the first time I can remember in 17 years that as a council we have managed to alienate both sides of the argument.

"It takes a special skill to do that."




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Hear some of the views of parents



SEE ALSO
Committee votes on Gaelic school
21 Sep 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Public respond to Gaelic school
20 Sep 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Row over Skye Gaelic-only school
09 Feb 06 |  Scotland

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