"Preserving the history of the parish of Sleat on the Isle of Skye"
Until the Education Act of 1872, the main school in Sleat was the parish school. Lord Macdonald paid for the salary of the parish schoolmaster, as he was the only heritor in the parish.
In 1803 the parish school was at Kilmore. All that remains of the building is a short piece of wall with the remains of a window embrasure. It is just beside the beginning of the township track from Kilmore up to the common grazing. There were about 40 scholars in 1800.
The schoolmaster in 1803 was James Beverley. He was paid £24 per year. He must have spent quite a bit of his time fishing as a rock below Kilmore church is called after him - Sgeir Bheverley.
Ruins of the Kilmore Parish School
The Scottish Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge had run schools in Sleat in the 18th century (1749-83). In 1774 it ran a school at Kilmore. The schoolmaster, John MacIntosh, was paid £8 a year. Nineteen boys and seven girls attended as pupils. In 1815 the Society set up a school in Tarskavaig which continued until 1865. The Edinburgh Ladies Association had a school at Camuscross and there was a Free Church School at Teangue.
In 1831 the General Assembly agreed to establish a school in Sleat. Lord Macdonald had to bear the cost of building a schoolhouse, as well as providing a garden, fuel and grazing for a cow. The tenant at Tormore had to provide “a stance for the house without any servitude of any kind from the people of the district”. This school was built at Camard, just south of Calgary. The schoolroom was upstairs, and the schoolmaster lived downstairs.
There were also circulating schools run by the Society for the Support of Gaelic Schools, which was set up in 1811.
Their aim was to teach both children and adults to read and write Gaelic. The Society would set up a school for a period of 6 to 18 months. After that it would be moved elsewhere in the parish, so that everyone had a chance to learn. Children would be taught during the day, and evening classes were held for adults. On Sundays, there were further classes for both children and adults.
The first Gaelic school in Sleat was at Camuscross. It was set up in 1814. The schoolmaster was Neil MacLure, who later worked for the SSPCK. It then moved to Aird and then Sasaig. The schoolmaster was Donald MacGillivray.
After the Education Act 1872
In 1872 the Education Act was passed. It introduced compulsory education for all children up to the age of 13.
Grants to schools for equipment and books, and even the teacher’s salary depended on good attendance records. Parents could be fined if their children stayed off school.
Despite this, children were often kept home to help on the croft.
The new school terms often clashed with some of the busiest times on the croft. School log books record absences for gutting herring, cutting peat, lifting seaweed, peat, hay and potatoes, and dipping sheep. Illness and bad weather could keep children at home as well. On one occasion Ferrindonald School was closed for 2 months because of an outbreak of scarlet fever.
Aird School 1876-1957
In 1895 there were 84 pupils in the school.
Ardvasar School 1878-1966
In the 1950s, this school often won a prize in the inter-school gardening competition in Skye.
Duisdale School 1877-1968.
This had three big rooms. There were 70 scholars when it first opened. There were 15 in 1955.
Drumfern School 1881-1943
Before this school was set up, the Drumfern children attended the one in Duisdale. They had to walk there.
Drumfern School was the smallest school in Sleat. It was supposed to accommodate a maximum of 20 pupils but at one time had as many as 31 on the school roll.
Ferindonald School 1878-1984
There were 43 pupils when it first opened in September 1878. By 1897 there were 97 pupils. When Duisdale School closed in 1968, this school became the only school in the parish. It was replaced by a brand new school at Kilbeg.
Kylerhea School 1887-1934
This was run by the SSPCK for a while.
Slate, inkpots and crayons found in Kylerhea School
Tarskavaig School 1877-1956
When it closed in 1956 the remaining 9 pupils went to Ardvasar School.
Sleat Primary School 1984-
When it opened there was accommodation for 80 pupils. A year later the school took in its first intake of Gaelic medium scholars. Two years later the Gaelic Medium Unit was set up.
Sleat Primary School
Before the 1939-45 war those scholars that went on to secondary education usually attended Portree High School. Some Sleat children went to other schools in the county including Inverness Academy and Kingussie Academy.
With the 1948 Education Act, Broadford School became a junior secondary, while Portree was the senior secondary school for the whole island. Until recently most Sleat children attended Portree High School as weekly boarders, coming home every weekend. Before the end of the 1950s, scholars at Portree were only able to get home during the holidays.