‘New dawn’ for Sandwick school after favourable report dispels ‘dark clouds’ 

A favourable school report following four years of inspections has been heralded as a “new dawn” – bringing “genuine relief” to staff, parents and pupils.

Shetland South councillor Bryan Peterson welcomed Sandwick Junior High School’s positive review, which he said marked the end of a “difficult period” for the whole community.

The school has faced scrutiny ever since an Education Scotland inspection in May 2019 highlighted “significant areas of under-performance” in key areas including leadership, teaching and pupil progress.

Returning last June, the inspectors noted some positive developments but remained concerned by the pace of improvement and quality of leadership.

The latest aspect review, carried out by independent reviewer Michael Wood, included input from senior council officials and parent council members who had previously raised concerns.

Mr Wood highlighted the progress that had been achieved and said it was “very important that the focus now shifts to a forward looking narrative”.

Discussing the report at Monday’s education and families committee, Mr Peterson, who is also Sandwick Community Council chairman, said it came as a “notable and genuine relief to the people of the Soothend”.

“It’s been a dark cloud hanging over the Soothend, it’s got implication wider than just Sandwick,” he added.

“It’s a relief among individuals, the parent councils, community council and the wider community so I hope this represents a new dawn for Sandwick school.”

Mr Peterson thanked interim headteacher Samantha Flaws and her colleagues as well as the wider community for their role in helping the school through “quite a difficult period”.

Committee chairman Davie Sandison echoed his comments.

“I think the levels of engagement we’ve had with the community, with the parent council, and with staff has been exemplary.

“I certainly feel the sense of relief that the whole community has had in this.”

Introducing the report, children’s services director Helen Budge said the team had been “very impressed with the journey the school has undertaken”.

“They recognised the work of the staff since the last visit, they found the school has the capacity to improve and have now signed off the school so they will not be making any further returns,” she added.

“The staff were indeed delighted and now feel relief to be able to continue their journey without the pressure of inspectors and the possibility of any further return visits.”


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