A blog that backs a bi-monthly magazine covering all the islands of Scotland
Sunday, 12 June 2011
This former side school at Achlyness in north-west Sutherland looks run-down, but most of its equivalent schools have disappeared without trace from the Highlands & Islands. When the 1870 Education Act became law every child in Britain was to receive elementary schooling between the ages of 5-12. This presented problems in the most remote settlements. Several organisations, including the Ladies' Association of Edinburgh and the Free Church of Scotland, helped establish these side schools to cater for the needs of children living in hill country and isolated stretches of coast. Teachers, often unqualified, would live with families who would adapt a room or create a primitive classroom. Two or three lasted until 1955, when transport facilities became more accessible. However, there are comparatively few records of these simple, temporary places of education - partly because paper was regarded as a luxury and children's work was undertaken on slates - erased by the end of the school-day.