By ROSALIND GRIFFITHS
A NEW head teacher has been appointed for Bell’s Brae Primary School in Lerwick.
Jennifer Wadley, 38, will take the helm of Shetland’s largest primary school after the October break. She is currently head teacher at Whiteness Primary School, and will take up her new post on the retiral of Margaret Rorie, who has been head teacher at Bell’s Brae for almost 14 years.
Mrs Wadley began her career as a teacher in Dunrossness Primary School in August 1992. She moved to the post of education officer in Hayfield House in August 1999 before taking up the post of head teacher at Whiteness in January 2004.
The promotion to a larger school will see Mrs Wadley returning to her roots – she was a pupil at Bell’s Brae from 1975 to 1982. She said she had always wanted to be a teacher and was inspired by her teachers at the primary school.
Although she would be sorry to leave her present job at Whiteness, where there are 82 primary pupils in four composite classes, as well as a nursery class with 26 on the books, Mrs Wadley said she was looking forward to a new challenge.
“I will be sad to leave Whiteness and I think you are always apprehensive about any change, but I am ready for a challenge. I am delighted to be going back to Bell’s Brae as head teacher, although it will take time to get used to.”
The main difference between her present post and the new one will, she said, be one of scale. At Bell’s Brae there are approximately 305 pupils in 14 classes – two at each stage, whereas there were three at each stage in her day – as well as 25 in the five additional special needs (ASN) classes and three nursery classes.
Because of the size of Bell’s Brae there is a management team in the form of three depute heads, which Mrs Wadley envisages will be “real positive support”.
Another difference will be the change from being a teaching head – at Whiteness she teaches two and a half days a week – to a non-teaching role (although she has not ruled out spending time in the classroom).
However, nothing will be too unexpected. Mrs Wadley has had contact with Bell’s Brae since her pupil days as she had to visit the school during her time in the education department when she was link officer for Lerwick schools.
She said her first priority in the new appointment will be to look at the four recommendations of the HMIE inspection.
She will also speak to staff, parents and pupils to obtain a “shared vision” for the school’s development. The pupils’ voice, she said, will be “really important”, and she welcomes close links with parents through the parent council (two members of which were involved in the recruitment process for the new head’s job).
Both Whiteness and Bell’s Brae, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, are eco-schools, and Mrs Wadley intends to continue the environmental work already started in the time of Mrs Rorie, who started at Bell’s Brae in August 1986 as assistant head teacher with responsibility for the infant department.
Mrs Rorie wished her successor well and said: “Being head teacher of a large school like Bell’s Brae is a demanding job but a very rewarding one. The job has been made easier by the enthusiasm of the pupils for learning, the hard work and commitment of the staff and the support I have received from the parents and the local community.
“I have enjoyed my time at Bell’s Brae and will certainly miss the children and staff and I feel the school is well placed to move forward under Mrs Wadley’s leadership”.
SIC head of schools Helen Budge said she was delighted to appoint Mrs Wadley to her new post, and was pleased to see a teacher progressing through the authority.