Sunday, 12 June 2011

Side Schools

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.

Scottish Islands Explorer - made to last

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Mountain Bothies Association looks after one old side school at Duag Bridge in Glen Einig ( off Glen Oykel ). You may see it on

It was last used as a school in the 1950s, but falling into disuse it became a sheep shelter, until 1908 when the estate offered it to the MBA to renovate and add to their network of open bothies.

Within it 2 old desks have been added and a blackboard, and a small library. If there are any old artifacts hiding away in unused schools such as more desks or wall charts, then they would be given a good home here.

I am aware of the larger, much better equipped school within the Newtonmore outdoor museum. We are not attempting to match their standard, but the little we do is appreciated by the many Cape Wrath Trailers who stop here.

Peter Aikman, Maintenance Organiser ( M.O.) who looks after the bothy