Praise for Whalsay school after follow-up report

A school has been praised for implementing key improvements while in the midst of the Covid pandemic.

Whalsay School was subject to an inspection in March 2020 shortly before the coronavirus lockdown.

Staff had to quickly adapt to using a rapidly-introduced home learning model – but still found time to implement recommendations.

HMIE officials had found a number strengths, but also identified areas requiring improvement – particularly in the nursery.

But the school’s senior management team developed a “clear action plan” to address key aspects.

Staff even undertook a range of professional learning to support changes in practice which were in line with current thinking.

A follow-up inspection in November found the changes had been well worthwhile.

A letter from inspector Jacqueline Gallagher states: “The leadership team led the school effectively throughout the pandemic and responded with speed and efficiency to the many challenges that arose.

“These included moving the nursery department to temporary accommodation and then equipping the new nursery department.”

She added that practitioners, children and parents were “delighted with the modern purpose-built accommodation”.

“Teachers continue to review courses and programmes of work and provide additional resources to support young people in research and independent learning activities.

“Throughout the period of the pandemic senior leaders and staff have prioritised keeping the school community safe.”

She added: “Children and young people described how well supported they felt throughout both periods of remote learning and the positive impact this has had on their mental wellbeing.”

The letter concluded: “Staff have addressed the recommendations from the original inspection successfully.

“As a result, we will make no more visits to the school in connection with the original inspection.”

Councillors voiced their delight when the report was presented to Monday’s education and families committee.

Shetland West councillor Catherine Hughson said it was a testament to the hard work of staff and pupils over a period of change.

“Our staff are doing a really, really positive job,” she said.

Lerwick North member John Fraser said the report was a positive reflection on the community of Whalsay.

“It takes a village to educate a child,” he said. “This is a whole community coming together.”


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