The wilderness school that can't find a head
Tuesday 26 January 2010
It sounds like the ideal job for a senior teacher looking for the next promotion: a headteacher's position with a £43,968 salary, working in a school with only 11 pupils. Plus, there's an annual bonus of £2,124.
But any prospective candidates looking at the small print would discover one reason why the job is still available – that "bonus" is actually an "annual remote allowance", because the primary school looking for a leader is located on a remote Scottish Highlands peninsula accessible only by boat or on foot.
The Highland Council has already advertised the job at Scoraig Primary once and has had to do it again after it was unable to find a suitable candidate. Scoraig has no road and can be reached only by walking five miles along a hill track, or by small boat. There is no ferry service.
The job advertisement says: "The school is located in the centre of the peninsula and is no more than 30 minutes' walk from most houses. It has two buildings and five teaching rooms in total."
For those interested, the settlement, between Loch Broom and Little Loch Broom, is considered to have something of an "alternative" atmosphere. Its remote location caused most residents to leave in the early 1960s.
Most of the remaining inhabitants are employed in local services. Among them are several practitioners of traditional activities from crofting and stonewalling to trawling and violin-making. Scoraig is known in the area for its organic food production and pioneering use of wind power. There is also a retreat centre and some basic self-catering accommodation.
Scoraig is not the only part of the Highlands searching for a new head. Last summer, pupils at Melvich Primary School in Sutherland gained international attention after posting a video on YouTube in which they lay on the ground to spell the word "help", in a bid to attract a teacher.
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