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Three new Head Teacher appointments

Date: 31 January 2023

Three head teachers

A number of new Head Teacher appointments have been made across Orkney Mainland schools.

Papdale Primary School is welcoming Emma Billington as Head, while Katie Lucas this week took over at St Andrews (Monday 30 January) and Cathy Mackenzie is the new Head Teacher leading the Hope, Burray and North Ronaldsay.

Katie Lucas has been Head at Rousay Community School since April 2021 and is “honoured” to have taken over at the helm of St Andrews.

She said: “I would like to thank Orkney Islands Council for this opportunity. I can’t wait to get underway and continue driving, with all stakeholders, the St Andrews School vision of ‘An Excellent Education for ALL’. “

Mrs Lucas’s teaching career has allowed her to travel and experience a varied range of different countries, cultures and backgrounds, religions, experiences and education systems and curriculums.

“After qualifying as a teacher, I spent my initial years teaching in inner London schools, but then decided to follow my Mother (who was also a Primary School Head Teacher) to Tanzania in East Africa, teaching in an International Primary School for three years on the shores of Lake Victoria.

“I also taught at an International School in Uganda before moving and settling in Zambia for 15 years.  During my time there, I took up several middle leadership and then senior leadership roles at Lusaka International Community School.  Initially, I was the head of a large curriculum support department for learners from 3 to 16 years old.  Following the success of the department, I was promoted to Vice Principal Academics and thereafter, Head of Primary where I had responsibility for over 300 expatriate and local children and over 50 members of staff.”

More recently Mrs Lucas’s travels have been focused around Scotland.

“I was very excited when I was appointed Head Teacher at Rousay Community School in April 2021. Rousay is such a special place. The people, the children, the school staff and so many more (including the MV Eynhallow ferry crews!) have made me so, so very welcome, their passion for the school is unquestionable.

“The community has played such a key role in supporting my efforts in building a better school for everyone. People are what make a place and Rousay Community School truly has the most amazing group of people. From the Parent Council to the wider community, school staff and teachers who go above and beyond expectations.  Everyone is committed and dedicated to providing the best possible outcomes for the children. The children themselves are passionate and extremely creative. They are a pleasure to teach and I will miss them all.”

Looking forward, and there are exciting opportunities at St Andrews Primary School.

“I am very much looking forward to the buzz of a larger school, fresh challenges and working collaboratively with everyone. It was a privilege to meet the parents and children recently who gave me such a warm, friendly Orcadian welcome.”

Emma Billington has been a Head Teacher for ten years, presently at the independent Dixie Grammar School Junior and Nursery School in the Midlands, which was graded as excellent in their last inspection.

She said: “Prior to this I was the Head Teacher of a large school in Coventry, a city school with over 400 pupils. While I was Head we moved from an Ofsted 'Requires Improvement' category to a ‘Good' category improving the quality of educational provision for all pupils.

“Papdale will be different to my current role as I am a going back into a big school again but the ethos and nature of Papdale and family feel of Papdale is very close to my current school. 

“I have always striven for my schools to have a very real family feel and ethos where the whole family is part of the school and everyone is known and valued.  I currently meet every child as they enter school - I am unsure how I will make this work at Papdale yet but will try and find a way!”

Emma will be moving to Orkney with her family very soon.

“We are all extremely excited about our move to the Orkney Islands and to my taking up post at Papdale Primary School.  The staff and pupils really impressed me on my recent visit, and I can't wait to start working with them all.”

Orkney’s rich musical, cultural and historical heritage was part of the draw to the islands for Mrs Catherine Mackenzie, who will be leaving her post as Acting Head Teacher of Gretna Primary School, Dumfries and Galloway to begin as Head of the Hope, Burray, linked with North Ronaldsay.

“I am currently a committee member of the Dumfries and District Music Festival Association where I help to organise an annual festival with Music and Speech classes and I love to work with children to develop their confidence to perform in front of an audience. I regularly lead choirs and prepare children to recite poems or prose and I’m looking forward to working in Orkney with its rich musical heritage.”

Mrs Mackenzie is also the lead for Additional Support for Learning at Gretna Primary so comes to the county with a wide range of experience in supporting pupils with ASL needs.

“I currently work as an Acting Head Teacher at Gretna Primary School and my substantive post there is Depute Head Teacher. It is a large rural school in a unique geographical location on the border. The school has 310 pupils and 50 children attend the ELC setting; a team of 45 staff support the school community.

“The school is currently working towards the Gold level of the Rights Respecting Schools award and already holds the Attachment and Trauma Sensitive Schools Silver Award. The school is a nurturing setting and staff work in flexible and creative ways to support children’s social and academic development.”

Overseeing three schools will undoubtedly come with unique opportunities and challenges, Mrs Mackenzie said.

“I understand the strong community ethos across the schools and I’m looking forward to being part of the communities and supporting the local areas in different ways. I work in a very collaborative way and I seek to build strong teamwork and relationships with all staff, families and pupils. I look forward to building networks with other colleagues in linked schools to find out about good practice and to learn from others too.

 “I am very grateful for the opportunity to move to the Orkney Islands and to experience working in and contributing to the education of learners across the three schools. I am very committed and conscientious, and I will do all I can to support the pupils, families and staff across the school communities. I am looking forward to making Orkney my new home!”

  • Summary:

    A number of new Head Teacher appointments have been made across Orkney Mainland schools.

    Papdale Primary School is welcoming Emma Billington as Head, while Katie Lucas this week took over at St Andrews (Monday 30 January) and Cathy Mackenzie is the new Head Teacher leading the Hope, Burray and North Ronaldsay.

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School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY

Telephone: 01856 873535

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Orkney Islands Council: BOREAS DOMUS MARE AMICUS