22nd May 2018
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Glowing inspector’s report for Foula school

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Foula’s school has received a very positive report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIe) following a recent visit.

The inspector highlighted many key strengths in both the single-pupil nursery class, which was described as a “rich and engaging learning environment”, and the two-pupil primary school, where the learning and teaching are “high quality”.

Throughout the school the arrangements for monitoring children’s learning and progress were found to be strong, and relationships and partnerships among staff and children were described as “very positive indeed”.

However the new head teacher Jeanette Cowie, who took up the post at the beginning of this term, and her staff are determined to find new and better ways of improving learning and achievement. To this end they worked closely with the inspector during his visit – he also spoke to a parent from each family and to all children attending the school.

In the nursery class, the inspector found that “good skills in early literacy and numeracy are being developed through stimulating activities”. Children in the primary class benefit from a range of learning activities and “well-planned visits to work alongside peers in other schools”.

They also have great local awareness: “their knowledge about aspects of life in Foula, including the development of the wind farm, is coming on very well”. Their work was described as being “well-presented” and staff were found to have a clear picture of how the children are developing. Staff use individual educational programmes with targets for each child, which the inspector commended as a “good approach”.

Ways in which the school might continue to improve were considered in the inspection. These include strengthening children’s skills in literacy numeracy and health and wellbeing through regular, planned application across all areas of the curriculum, both in and out of class, and to increase the amount of time spent on “individual, sustained and challenging” learning, including through the use of ICT.

In addition children are to be more involved in planning their own learning, taking greater account of their interests and needs to increase their responsibility and independence.

The report concludes that the inspector is “satisfied with the overall quality of provision” and that the head teacher is “building on a strong foundation”. The inspector is “confident that the school’s self-evaluation processes are leading to improvements”, and consequently no further visits in connection with this inspection are deemed necessary.

Chairwoman of the council’s education and families committee Betty Fullerton welcomed the inspection results. She said: “Today’s report praises the continuing hard work of all the staff at Foula School. It particularly commends the nursery class, which received ‘very good’ scores across the board.

“I am pleased to see the inspection looking at how well the school uses information and communication technology (ICT) as a tool for learning. Mastering the use of technology from an early age is crucial. It is a skill that all our children must develop if they are to be successful in the future.”

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About Rosalind Griffiths

I am a Shetland Times reporter covering news, including health stories, and features. I have been in Shetland for more than 30 years.

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