A day in the life of...

11th April 2014 at 01:00
A flight on a tiny plane in a fierce wind is not the most conventional commute. But as this art teacher looks down on the beauty of the Orkney Islands, she wouldn't be anywhere else

The light of the sunrise peeks through my curtains, signalling that it's time to get up. I shower, dress and have a quick bit of toast for breakfast. After grabbing my bag and travel mug of coffee, I jump on the bus and arrive at the airport 15 minutes later, where I check in and wait for my flight to be called. The sun is fully up now and it's going to be a beautiful day.

"First stop Westray, then a short hop over to Papa Westray," shouts Colin, the pilot, over the sound of the propellers on the eight-seater island-hopper plane. The journey is noisy but takes only 20 minutes, and we fly over some of Scotland's most stunning islands and beaches, spotting wind turbines and seals along the way.

Since being placed in the Orkney Islands for my probation year, I have fallen in love with the endless sun in the summer, the Northern Lights, the beautiful beaches, the people and the uniquely remote schools.

I live in Kirkwall, the capital of Orkney. As a peripatetic teacher, I work in nine different schools on seven different islands every week, frequently travelling on planes and boats. I run day-long art sessions with composite classes that contain children of all ages, from infants to teenagers. Today's school has six children and one teacher. When I arrive they are outside, battling against the wind and rounding up the hens to give them their breakfast.

Back in the classroom, we clamber into the children's handmade time machine and travel back to ancient Egypt. We look at images of Egyptian art on the walls of tombs and drawings of Egyptians writing in hieroglyphics. We discuss the patterns and shapes that we see. When we land back in the classroom, we talk about how the tomb paintings are completely different to our present surroundings.

The younger students get to work, drawing their favourite television characters dressed as Egyptians and standing in their very own tombs. After lunch, the children look at their classmates' work, pointing out hieroglyphs that they recognise and admiring the illustrations of Egyptians playing with iPads.

The sun is shining now, so we don our jackets, hats and scarves and head out to the playground to draw pyramids and camels on the concrete with chalk. The children love working outdoors despite the strong winds. They talk me through their designs, eager to show me how tall their camels are and how many bricks they have in their pyramids. We photograph the drawings, knowing that in a few hours they will be washed away with the rain.

School ends at 3.30pm and I get back on the plane, which stops at Westray to pick up the other peripatetic teachers. As the sun starts to set, we fly back to Kirkwall. I get home at 5pm and relax with a quick cup of tea before packing my bag for tomorrow. Then I head out for a walk. Orkney has stunning beaches: as the sun goes down, I walk the five miles (7km) to my favourite beach and back. What a wonderful way to end a busy day.

Your day

Do you want to tell the world's teachers about your working day, the unique circumstances in which you teach or the brilliance of your class? If so, email richard.vaughan@tes.co.uk

We will give your school pound;100 if your story is published.


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