One remote Scottish community’s battle to find a teacher for its five-pupil school

18th September 2015 at 10:55

One of Britain’s most remote schools, a five-pupil primary on a tiny Scottish peninsula, has this morning hit the headlines owing to its search for a new head and a new teacher.

The school can be found on a spit of land in the Highlands that can be approached only by a five-mile footpath or by boat, which becomes perilous in the winter months.

Increasingly desperate to fill the vacancy, residents of the island have launched an aggressive marketing campaign to draw attention to the job’s unique qualities.

Details of the role can be found here.

Scoraig is unusual, even in Scotland, because of the unique nature of its population. It was settled for the first time in the 1960s by a self-described “motley crew of folk” who wanted to live an alternative lifestyle. For most, this still means building their own homes, finding their own water supply and powering their homes from wind, water or sun.

One former headteacher describes the experience of teaching on the peninsula. “I can’t think of anywhere where young people can grow up with so much freedom among such neighbourly, convivial people. I was very sad when family circumstances made me leave Scoraig. I certainly spent the happiest years of my teaching life there,” says Deirdre Carney.

But there have been problems with recruiting for the role. Scoraig Teaching Group administrator Zoe Fothergill believes that the local authority hasn’t given the advertising process the attention it deserves.

Other problems, she says, include General Teaching Council of Scotland regulations that mean successful applicants would need to register north of the border, and that the jobs don’t come with accommodation.

However, none of this should put off candidates, Fothergill insists. “It is difficult to describe how special Scoraig is to anyone that hasn’t yet visited,” she says. “There is no pub, shop, post office or mains electricity and no road into the peninsula.

“The residents are a practical bunch, comprising of people with a mixed bag of skills from windmill manufacturer to stone builders, violinmaker, crofters, fisherman and even a tarot card reader. There is a very strong sense of community rarely seen elsewhere these days.

“The school is well equipped, and set in a stunningly picturesque setting.”


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