A Brief History
It is known that there have been several small schools in this area – at Lunnaness, Lunna and Roadside. The SSPCK did a lot of good work throughout Shetland and in Lunnasting they established a school in 1796 at a croft house, which is still known as “Schoolhouse”. This lasted until the 1840’s and at one time had as many as 44 pupils. The first parochial school for the area of Nesting, Lunnasting, Whalsay and Skerries was set up in Whalsay in 1800 and lasted 2-3 years but another 30 years elapsed before the permanent parochial schoolroom and schoolhouse were erected at Queeness in 1832. This served the community until the 1870’s when it was outgrown and was considered “crowded and ill furnished”. “New excellent premises” were built alongside and entered, by the master and pupils, on 22nd July 1876 “without any formal ceremony or introduction from the School Board”. This building was utilised, with some improvements as necessity decreed, for the next 120 years and was superseded by the building which we now occupy.
This school was constructed around the old school building. The teaching areas are grouped around the Resource Area. The Resource Area and the pupils toilet facilities are accommodated within the original school building. Pockets of stonework and the original roof trusses of the original building have been incorporated in the Resource Area.
Quotes taken from the School Log 1873 – 1904
Some of the following photos were taken by Dennis Coutts and have been posted on this website by kind permission of John Coutts.
The following photos have been reproduced by kind permission of the Lunnasting History Group.
Extracts from the School Log
We hope you find the following extracts of interest
29th December 1877
On Monday and Tuesday a most terrible snow storm in consequence of which the school was closed on Monday. During the week attendance very irregular. School opened and closed with prayers.
21st January 1881
Lessons given in the order of Time Table.
Part of the plaster on the roof of the School fell down during School hours, and some of the Scholars narrowly escaped injury.
25th December 1885
Average attendance down to 23.7. Officer going around to no purpose. Measles have appeared in one or two houses in the parish.
11th January 1885
To-day received intimation from the Clerk that this school was to be shut four weeks on account of the measles, and that a Medical Certificate to that effect was being sent off to the Department. School was shut accordingly.
24th December 1886
Owing to rough weather, sickness, want of suitable clothing and other causes the average attendance this week is only 24.3. The Board having kindly provided an additional set of Readers for Standards 1, 11 and 111, each of these scholars was supplied with a copy some three weeks ago. Sewing mistress away these two weeks.
23rd December 1887
Owing to continuous stormy weather the average attendance is down to 20. To-day was taken as a holiday on account of a treat kindly given to all the Scholars by Mrs Hunter Bell of Lunna.
6th January 1888 - Friday
School met 3 times this week. The remaining days were taken for Christmas holidays. Attendance down to 13 caused by want of shoes and clothes, hense "colds", and other sickness. The officer has been directed to go and try to get more sent out.
3rd January 1890 - Friday
Average attendance for week down to 50.8. Next week is to be taken as the Old Christmas holidays (5th-12th).
25th December 1891
A fever has broken out in the Leveneep district, and although the children from that quarter are staying away, the majority of the others won't come to school for fear of infection. To-day, although weather fine, only 21 here: average for week 33.3.
16th December 1892
Weather somewhat improved. A number of children unwell with colds. Attendance irregular - average 41. Officer called yesterday. This week received half-a-ton of coals from the Board for the School.
18th December 1899
At a late hour last Saturday evening the School, or rather the partition betwixt the School and the Classroom, was discovered to be on fire. By the united efforts of several neighbours the fire was after a hard struggle extinguished. Intimation of the sad occurrence was sent to the Clerk of the Board to-day along with a letter from Dr Burgess certifying that in the mean time the School was unfit for children to meet in.
3rd January 1900
A workman, Mr Wm Nicolson, came from Lerwick sent by the Agent of the Fire Insurance Company, to inspect the damage done to the school with the view of having it repaired.
13th February 1874
The school quarter commenced on the 12th current but no children have as yet been entered and I do not expect any for the quarter. The parents assert that their children must necessarily be employed at home at this season of the year and the School Board apparently find some difficulty in the way of carrying into affect the compulsory clause of the Education Scotland Act of 1872 owing no doubt to the want of sufficient accommodation.
30th March 1878
Attendance thin – three weeks holidays allowed for the accommodation of the people who may require their children at home during the spring labouring season.
20th March 1885
Snowstorm: coarse weather all this week, notwithstanding school met each day but Wednesday.
27th March 1885 – Friday
Weather exceedingly wet and stormy. This morning only 19 children came forward and as their clothes were soaked with rain they had to be sent home early.
2nd March 1888 - Friday
Average attendance down to 23.7. Weather fine. Several children taken away to gather whelks, others to assist in preparing manure for the corfts.
28th March 1890 – Friday
Average attendance for week down to 36. So many taken away or the “voar” work: Officer sent to-day to endeavor to bring back a few more.
23rd March 1894 – Friday
Fine weather. Several scholars kept at home to work on the fields. Average attendance down to 52.3. Fuel, which was formerly provided practically by the children or their parents, is now wholly provided by the Board.
March 13th 1900 – Monday
School was reopened to-day after a very protracted vacation of twelve weeks – caused first by a fire in the school and next by an epidemic of Influenza, from both of which causes it remained closed till this date.
7th October 1881
School reopend after the usual four weeks holidays, but as only about a half dozen scholars assembled the school was again closed. Owing to the very late harvest the parents could not be prevailed upon till after the harvest to send their children to school and no complulsion was exercised.
18th September 1882
School reopened after the usual holidays but as only about half dozen scholars came forward it was again closed. People all busy taken in their harvest and say they cannot send their children for some weeks.
17th September 1886
Average attendance this week 33.8. The Officer was going around on Monday and the result was that two came out, and others promised but came not. Heavy rain on Tuesday; consequently they were dismissed early.
2nd September 1887
Friday - Average attendance 40.2, of these 19 have come regularly the others occasionally. Total number out this week 50, and on the roll 68. Work progressing favourably.
21st September 1888
Friday - Yesterday, being the annual 'Fastday' in the Parish Church, was taken as a holiday - average attendance for week 50.37. children dismissed in good spirits with 'Home Lessons' for Monday
20th October 1893
Friday - School was resumed on Monday, but only 28 came forward. Yesterday was taken as a holiday, it being the cattle sale day - Average attendance for week only 39.8. Unusal work done, and lessons given in the order of the Time Table.