Orkney’s smallest school reopened recently – and its pupils are enjoying being linked with a Mainland counterpart.
There are three pupils at North Ronaldsay Community School – two in P2 and one in P5.
The children have been enjoying virtual contact and joining in some lessons with children from Burray Primary School.
Head Teacher at Burray Primary and the Hope Community School, Steve Arnold, explained how the fairly unique “satellite class” set up is working.
“Access to remote learning has been essential to all children across Orkney, and still is for some, but none more so than the children of North Ronaldsay.
“Throughout the pandemic, the children at North Ronaldsay School received remote learning from Miss Hazel Pinner, a teacher based on the Mainland. Miss Pinner spent four days a week providing lessons and resources as well as some video sessions to those living on the island, basing most of the material on planning shared with Burray Primary School.
“North Ronaldsay School is a unique position going forward and the reliance on digital communication will continue to play a vital role. Through the linkage, they will share learning resources, administration resources and planning.
“We have now appointed Helga Scott as the Principal Teacher on site and I will visit as restrictions allow but most of my support will be given remotely. The school will operate as a satellite class of Burray Primary School. This means the children can join in remotely on some lessons and have frequent and meaningful contact with pupils in Burray. The period of remote learning has served as an excellent opportunity to develop and strengthen those links prior to the school’s reopening.
“Helga is doing an amazing job of setting things up and giving the children a lovely environment in which to learn. In the future we hope for the children to join us for sports days, concerts and school trips.”
Helga Scott said the reopening of the school has delighted the entire island community and given the island a real boost.
“As a resident and parent of young children I know how much this means to everyone and I’m excited to have taken on the role of Principal Teacher, and to be working within such a brilliant team.
“The children are really enthusiastic about their new school and are settling in well. Something I am particularly looking forward to is making the absolute most of our location by developing active and outdoor learning opportunities.
“We are lucky to have so many beautiful places to explore right on our doorstep – from our playground alone we enjoy panoramic views out over other Orkney islands to the south and of Fair Isle to the north - on a clear day we can even see Foula.
“It’s great to have the link with Burray School and be part of the excellent team there, and once restrictions ease, we look forward to real-life connections and hope that Burray pupils will be able to visit us in North Ronaldsay too.
“We have an incredible community here in North Ronaldsay that has always been so supportive of the school and we have already received lots of kind offers from folk keen to share their skills, knowledge and inviting us to become involved with some exciting projects. The school really is at the heart of our community and it’s fantastic to see children back in it again.”