Britain's smallest secondary school – with only three pupils – is to close. Councillors on Out Skerries in Shetland voted to shut Skerries School to save money.
Angry islanders said the move could lead to drastic depopulation. The small archipelago, a 90-minute ferry journey east of the Shetland mainland, and only 200 miles from Norway, has around 70 residents but just a handful of families with children.
The decision by Shetland Islands Council means the secondary department - a single room inside the island primary school - is due to close next summer, saving the authority an estimated £74,000.
Children over the age of 11 will then have to board in a hostel in Lerwick while attending Anderson High School, and will face the prospect of a notoriously rough journey home every weekend.
The local authority supported a proposal from officials to close the tiny school on the casting vote of the convenor after the initial vote was tied 10-10.
Parents have vowed to fight the decision. Ryan Arthur, 34, a father-of-three whose son Scott, 14, said: "We are desperately disappointed by the decision. Councillors just accepted the waffle that was put in front of them. The long-term impact of this would be utter devastation.
"If some families decide to leave there would not be enough people to run the salmon farm, and if the fishing boats relocate, it would reach a point where the isle could no longer function."
He said the fate of the islands could be swung by the decisions taken by as few as four families - two with children at the school, and two with pre-school age children.
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