Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

Schools FAQs

Our aim is for this page to be your first port of call whenever you are looking for information about schools in Orkney.

Please click on one of these frequently asked questions to take you directly to the relevant information, or you can scroll down the page.

When are the school holidays?

Details can be found on the 'Term, Holiday and Closure Dates' page. A link is available from the 'Related Links' section of this page.

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Do I qualify for help with school meals and school clothing?

If your child is in Primary 1-3 then you are automatically entitled to free school meals without the need to apply. However, if you would like to apply for a school clothing allowance or assistance with school meals for a child in Primary 4 or above then you must be in receipt of certain benefits.

Information on eligibility and how to apply can be found on the 'Free School Meals and Clothing' page, available from the 'Related Links' section of this page.

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Is my child entitled to school transport?

Whether your child qualifies for school transport depends on their age and the distance they live from the school.

The Council provides free transport to all pupils who live more than the statutory distance from their designated school, which is two miles for pupils less than 8 years old and three miles for pupils aged 8 and over. In Orkney, this reduces to 1.5 miles for all pupils during the winter terms (October break to Easter break). These distances are measured by the shortest available safe walking route.

Transport is only provided to the school for the catchment area where you live.  If you elect to place your child in a school within a different catchment area, no transport will be provided.

Further details can be found on the 'School Transport' page, available from the 'Related Links' section of this page.

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I am moving to Orkney. How do I enrol my child in a school in Orkney?

You should contact the head teacher of the school in your catchment area. Details of catchment areas are available on the 'School Catchment Areas' page and a list of school addresses and phone numbers can be found on the School Contact Information page. Both of these pages can be accessed from the 'Related Links' section of this page.

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How do I enrol my child for pre-school?

Each year in February, we provide details for pre-school enrolment in the local press.

For further information, view the 'Pre-school Enrolment' page from the 'Related Links' section of this page..

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Can I ask for a place at a school that is not in the catchment area for where I live?

Yes, this is called a placing request. Further information and how to apply is available from the 'School Placing Request' page, which can be accessed from the 'Related Links' section of this page.

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When does my child start primary school?

Children born between September and February can start school either in the August before their fifth birthday or at the start of the school term the following August. This is called a deferred entry. Children born between March and August must start school in the August of the year in which they become five.

For further information view the 'Starting Primary One' leaflet available from the 'Related Downloads' section of this page.

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Should my child have a deferred entry to school?

Parents with any concerns about this should discuss the matter with senior staff at the pre-school centre their child goes to.

For further information view the Starting Primary One leaflet available from the 'Related Downloads' section of this page.

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Who should I contact if I am concerned about anything at my child’s school?

Your first point of contact should be the Head Teacher, who will normally arrange a meeting with you to discuss your concerns.

If you cannot sort things out within the school, you should arrange to discuss the matter with a member of staff in Education, Leisure and Housing. Contact the department on 01856873535 extension 2401 and a meeting will be arranged for you.

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Is my child eligible for an Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)?

Education Maintenance Allowances are available for 16-19 years old from low income families, with the aim of reducing financial barriers that may restrict young people from remaining in post-16 education.

For further information on eligibility and how to apply, refer to the 'EMAs' page, which can be accessed from the 'Related Links' section of this page.

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How can I get more involved in my child’s school?

Volunteer

We encourage parents and others in the community to get involved in the work of our schools.

This could mean helping out with:

  • Nursery and primary classes.
  • Activities like school trips, excursions, drama productions or social functions.
  • Playgroups or "parents and toddlers" groups.

Checks for criminal convictions are made for all staff and volunteers working for this service with children and young people under 18, or vulnerable adults.

Parent Council

Why not become a member of a Parent Council? You will be giving a valuable service to the school and your community and you will help to make sure future generations of children enjoy a good education. All schools in Orkney have a Parent Council. For further details go to the 'Parental Involvement' section or contact the school. A list of school addresses and phone numbers can be found on the 'School Contact Information' page.

Both of these pages can be accessed from the 'Related Links' section of this page.

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When can my child leave school?

The summer and winter leaving dates are 31 May or the first day of the Christmas holiday. If your child turns 16 between:

  • 1 March and 30 September they can leave on 31 May.
  • 1 October and the end of February they can leave at the start of the Christmas holiday.

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What do I do if I think my child needs additional support at school?

If you have any concerns about how your child is getting on in school you should make an appointment to see the Head Teacher. You will have the chance to discuss why you feel your child needs support and talk about what might be done to address your concerns.

If the Head Teacher thinks your child would benefit from additional support from agencies outwith the school, this will be discussed and plans put in place to make sure this happens.

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My child needs additional support. How do you provide for the needs of children in Orkney?

For details of provision for pupils with additional support needs, go to the 'Education is for All' pages, which can be accessed through the 'Related Links' section of this page.

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I am registered to teach in England, can I also teach in Scotland?

All teachers in Scotland must be registered with the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

Further information can be found on the GTC Scotland website or contact Maureen Gunn by email or on 01856873535 extension 2412 for further details.

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I am interested in working in a school in Orkney. Can I supply my CV?

We regret that we cannot hold CVs on file. You should apply online for advertised vacancies. If you are unable to apply online and need to apply using an alternative format, please contact the HR Support Team by telephone on 01856873535 extension 2250 or send them an email.

All posts are advertised on the My Job Scotland website which can be accessed from the 'Related Sites' section of this page.

If you are interested in supply work (teaching or non-teaching) please contact Maureen Gunn by email or on 01856873535 extension 2412 for further details. You can also apply online through our adverts on the My Job Scotland Website.

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Related Links

Related Sites

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