Shetland has been named the second-best place in the UK to bring up children for the second year running.
The honour was based on factors including its high employment rate – which is said to increase the likelihood of children being surrounded by happy adults.
The UK-wide rankings were published by Halifax Bank following its annual children’s quality of life survey.
Orkney was identified as top of the pile when it comes to the best places to raise children, followed by Shetland in second place, Craven (North Yorkshire) third and the Western Isles fourth.
SIC director of children’s services Helen Budge said she was delighted with the achievement.
She said: “I know that our staff work very hard to ensure that services are provided to meet the needs of all the bairns in Shetland. The quality of life for bairns here in Shetland is very good as the survey has found. Shetland is indeed a lovely rural location to bring up young people.”
Shetland was rated highly for a number of reasons – not least its employment rate of 89.1 per cent, which is the best in the UK.
A second factor which impressed the authors is the average school spend per pupil of £8,701. This compares favourably with the British average of £4,643.
Another factor cited by the report is the isles’ low population density, with only 16 people per square kilometre.
A fourth is the relative lack of cars – with an average of 150 vehicles per square kilometre – meaning “children can walk about in relative freedom”. The UK average, in contrast, is 9,729 vehicles per square kilometre.
However, amid the positive aspects of life for children in the north of Scotland, the report noted that one drawback was the poor broadband speeds found in certain areas.
In last year’s survey, Orkney and Shetland also held the top two spots.