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Outnumbered By Sheep: Could You Be The Next Headteacher At This Four-Pupil School On a Remote Scottish Island?

The island only has 28 residents and is looking for a new headteacher.

Mike Pennington

Foula, one of the Shetland Islands, is one of the most isolated places in the UK. The four-pupil school is now facing its only teacher’s retirement, meaning the most remote teaching job in the UK has now become available.

Foula is home to only twenty-eight people. Measuring just 4.9 square miles, the island is quaint, quiet, and lacking in some of the home comforts the rest of us might be used to. There are no shops and no pubs. Residents must order food from the mainland to be brought to them via plane or ferry. The incredibly small school is a bit of a luxury.

The island of Foula. CREDIT: Ronnie Robertson / Flickr

Resident Ken Gear, a father of two of the children at Foula Primary School, said to The Guardian that Foula might not suit everyone, but ‘for the kind of people who like this kind of thing, it can be idyllic.’

“You need to be quite independent to live in a place like Foula. You need to be a self-starter. We have quite a strong community and certainly help each other when needed, but at the same time, part of the success of the Foula community is that people are able to look after themselves. There is that duality.”

Being able to get to grips with life on Foula will be essential for the newest headteacher at Foula Primary School.

What job is available at Foula Primary School?

The school building. CREDIT: Julian Paren

Given there are just four pupils at Foula Primary School, the school only has one teacher, who is headteacher and teacher in one. There are some part-time workers on the island, who come in to teach IT, early years, and art.

The departing headteacher, Beverly MacPherson, has been in the post for four years. In an interview with BBC Sounds, she detailed a day-in-the-life, to give a sense of what it is like to be a headteacher in the strangest school in the UK.

MacPherson does everything: teaches the children, cooks lunch for the children, supervises them as they play. Some mornings, she starts the day with Just Dance as it ‘wakes [the children] up in the morning.’

There’s no staff room in the school, just a kitchen. There isn’t as much data management as in other headteacher roles; the biggest perk of the job, in her eyes, is how much time she gets to spend with the children.

The job is offering £61,374, alongside any relocation expenses. The job comes with a three-bed house.

How can you get the job?

The council’s advertisement for the role requires experience as a headteacher, and personal qualities such as ‘a can-do attitude, vision, energy, initiative, good communication skills and self-discipline.’

If you get the job, be careful what you do in the role. If you start sending clowns to school, you might get into a bit of trouble.

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