Is this the best teaching job in Britain? £54K a year, 76 kids, and life on a beautiful island

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THE most northerly school in the UK is looking for a new head – who will be only the seventh since the First World War.

Baltasound Junior High School on the Shetland island of Unst is closer to Norway than Edinburgh.

Possibly the best teaching job in Britain comes with a £54,000 salary, relocation package, a school roll of just 76, class sizes as small as three, and life on a beautiful island where sightings of the northern lights are common.

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The school has a roll of just 76, aged from four to 16 – and the current head can’t remember a single fight

 

And while teachers throughout the UK often struggle to maintain discipline, the current head, who has been at Baltasound for the past 23 years says, she’s never seen a fight there.

Maggie Reyner, who has started at Baltasound – which caters for youngsters aged four to 16 – since 1992, is leaving to be closer to family.

Miss Reyner, who began her teaching career in Glasgow, said: “I feel really quite upset about the thought of leaving Unst. The thought of leaving is actually quite difficult.

“It does get under your skin. One of our English teachers came 35 years ago just to do some supply from Edinburgh and didn’t leave.”

She continued: “It is fantastic, it’s a really good school. It’s so well supported by the community – the school is at the hub of the community.”

Maggie2
Maggie, the current head, has been there since 1992 and was only the sixth head since the First World War

 

Speaking about living on the island, which is home to just 600 people, she said: “It’s a whole different way of life.

“I never lock my car, I never take my keys out of the car. I don’t lock my house. In Unst that’s just the way it is.You’d never think of locking it.

“Everybody works together to support each other.”

“Our children are usually very well behaved,” she continued.

“I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen a fight in the school. They might curse at each other but it’s just not the way the bairns behave.”

There are some issues with being at the helm of a school on a small and remote Scottish island however.

Miss Reyner explained: “Up until recently we had three members of staff in the fire brigade. Two teachers and a janitor.

“They’ve got a beeper and it would go off and all of a sudden they’d rush out the door, off to a fire.”

Travelling to sports tournaments can also be an issue, including at the island capital of Lerwick.

“If we’re going for something at 10am we have to leave before 8am and get two ferries,” she said.

•Muckle Flugga  credit www.SHETLAND.org
Whoever gets the job can spend days off among some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK. (Pic: www.SHETLAND.org)

 

Applications for the job recently closed and Miss Reyner said the winning candidaete will experience a “huge change”.

“Apart from anything else in the summer it’s daylight almost 24 hours a day and in the wintertime there are days it feels like you’ve never seen daylight.

“The weather can be extreme.”

However she added: “It’s a lovely place to work.”

Victoria Mouat, chair of the school’s parent council, said: “The school has really small class sizes. Having smaller classes is nice, the teachers pick up on things.

“The smallest class in secondary is three pupils, the smallest in primary is nine.”

She added: “We have really well behaved children. You don’t get any of the trouble you get in bigger schools in the cites.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a pupils being expelled from the school.”

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