23 December, 2022

Port Ellen comes out on top

Islay blackboard image

When the ‘word’ education is mentioned, many of us imagine a classroom, blackboards and the smell of school dinners. In reality, education goes further; supporting children to grow, develop and learn in a safe environment.

This is why it’s essential to recognise and celebrate schools for their relentless hard work and dedication. For providing children with a strong foundation of knowledge, despite the challenges and adversity, which comes with the profession. The Pearson National Teaching Awards do just this by reaffirming the teaching mission and awarding those who stand out as true teaching heroes!

Regarded as the ‘Oscars’ of the teaching profession, The National Teaching Awards are designed to recognise excellence in education across the UK and have done so for almost a quarter of a century. These prestigious awards are highly sought-after, but only the best can even dream of such an accolade. Can you guess who won gold this year?

Simply the best

We’re very proud to inform you that Port Ellen Primary School, on the Isle of Islay, has been awarded the coveted Gold Award in the Pearson National Teaching Awards for Primary School of the Year. Selected from thousands of nominations, Port Ellen was honoured alongside fellow gold winners across 16 categories as the best of the UK’s educators. Not bad, for a school so remote it takes a two-hour ferry journey to reach the Scottish mainland.

Islay Port Ellen image

If you haven’t yet visited the Isle of Islay (if not, we hope we’re on your wish list), let me paint the scene. Port Ellen Primary School is located in the scenic fishing village of Port Ellen on the southern tip of the island. It is the largest town on Islay after Bowmore, offering views of the Oa Peninsula and to Kilnaughton Bay. The marina here provides a safe, comfortable haven for yachts and is often the first impression visitors have of our island when travelling from Kennacraig.

Central to the island’s community, Port Ellen Primary School, has successfully designed a curriculum around island life.  Staff have built links with other island schools worldwide, helping pupils to build a global community they can reach out to.

As important as the wider world is, the school also works hard to keep local history, traditions and language alive. Pupils are encouraged to value their Gaelic heritage as they play Gaelic instruments and perform Gaelic songs on a national level.

The One Show

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The award was presented by TV presenter Joe Crowley after an orienteering challenge in the local woods. The whole community had congregated to discover if Port Ellen Primary had won the respected gold award, and of course they were not disappointed. Music and celebrations continued into the afternoon with the whole event being aired on the BBC The One Show on 24 November.

Maureen Macdonald, headteacher at Port Ellen Primary School, describes the sense of pride and joy within the entire school community as palpable. “Despite being a small island school, we believe, speak and think ‘possible’ which means often stepping beyond our comfort zone and challenging the status quo. We continue to grow and to keep improving but for now, we will collectively enjoy this moment.”

I’m sure you will all join us in congratulating Port Ellen Primary School in this achievement and all the hard work they continue to do across the island and in the classroom.

If you would like to know more about Islay, please explore our website, or reach out to us at info@islaydevelopment.com.

This article was written anonymously with permission from the Islay Development Initiative. However, the author leaves you with one clue to their identity ‘I’m forever delivering the post, but I never walk a step’.