Our aim at Baltasound Junior High School is to ensure all of our students progress on their journey to become successful learners, effective contributors, confident individuals and responsible citizens. Together, the school staff, parents and the Unst community will work together to provide a dynamic place of learning. During the 2018/2019 session our students made the decision that our school motto did not reflect our school or was it something the believed reflected our school. The Pupil Council ran a competition in school and on social media, to get ideas for a new school motto. The Pupil and Parent Council then met and discussed the various entries before deciding on:
Peerie School, Big Dreams
This matches our firm belief that no matter our location, our our circumstances, we go on to achieve great things; we can be who we dream or dare to be. At the front door of our school we display and celebrate our former students and over the past 2 years we have had examples of professional sportspeople (representing Scotland at the Commonwealth Games), geologists, teachers, volunteers in the 3rd sector, quantity surveyors and more. This matches our school motto and the fact that we can do anything and be anyone. Being rural and remote does not hold us back, far from it – it’s what makes us unique and we are proud to celebrate that.
Unst is the most northerly populated island in Britain. It’s a 2 hour journey and two ferries from Lerwick, the main town in the Shetland Islands. Although only 20 km by 8 km miles and with a population of only just over 500, it has its own unique character. There are soaring cliffs, sandy beaches, wildlife and archaeological remains. Unst has two Nature Reserves – Hermaness and the Keen of Hamar; Hermaness is home to 25,000 pairs of Puffins each summer. The moonscape of the Keen of Hamar is the habitat to Edmonston’s chickweed – a plant found nowhere else in the world.
Unst is rich geologically, with outcrops of talc and soapstone. Historically, Unst has much to offer – from prehistoric standing stones and Viking houses to a 16th century castle and the remains of a wartime radar station. There are three main centres on the island – Uyeasound in the south, Baltasound in the middle, and Haroldswick in the north. Facilities in the island include a care centre, a heritage centre, a boat museum, a leisure centre and swimming pool, clubs for sailing, rowing, football, netball, badminton, squash and many others – and not forgetting our world famous bus shelter!
In February, there are two Up Helly Aa festivals, one at Norwick and one at Uyeasound. Viking history is very important to our community and we celebrate this every year; it is also the main feature in our school logo. People in Unst tend to work in a variety of jobs – including crofting, salmon farming, renewable energy, creativity and entrepreneurship (with lots of small local businesses), in social care and for the local authority. Our island may be small – but there’s a lot in it!
Parents and the Unst Community are integral to the school. We believe parents play a vitally important role in their child’s learning and we work together to ensure the best possible outcomes for children. We are fortunate to live in a community where education and learning is valued. We aim to promote Home-School partnerships to the benefit of our pupils. Parent and adult helpers perform a valuable role in our school. Real success lies in parents and teachers working together, developing mutual trust and respect in supporting young people.
In our community, we appreciate that many parents are volunteers in many organisations. This means that although our island is small and remote, the people who stay here are busy and active. As a school we have to be flexible to the needs of the community and as a result parents are in school and involved in their child’s education all year round. As a school we ensure that we share as much information with parents through this website, Facebook, Newsletters, Community Days, Bring Your Parents To School Days, Doors Open Nights and Parent’s Nights.
Our unique geography means that for our students (and their families), it can cost as much as £44 (in ferry fares and fuel) to step in the door of a cinema or supermarket; this is before you buy cinema tickets/snacks or groceries. The ‘On Da Level‘ inequalities report highlighted the fact that a basket of staple goods on Unst is 60% more expensive than in Lerwick; making Unst one of the most expensive places to stay in the UK. This means that opportunities available to other families may not be available to our families and therefore, we need to ensure Baltasound JHS offers a wide and varied range of opportunities in school. This requires a great deal of community involvement, fund raising and grant applications in order to provide these opportunities and we are happy to rise to this challenge; have a look at our wall display to see what we can achieve in a year!
We are an all-through school where students can join our Early Years setting at age 3 and stay on until age 16, completing S4 before moving onto the Anderson High School, Shetland College or into employment.
Our Early Years department is staffed by an Early Years Teacher, Worker and Assistant. Our Primary Department is staffed by 2 Primary Teachers, and our Secondary Department by 10 Subject Specialist Teachers (most of which work in other schools within Shetland). We also have 1 ASN Teacher (part-time), 1 Learning Support Assistant, and 3 Learning Support Workers. Our Senior Management Team consists of a Pupil Support Teacher, a Depute Head Teacher and a Head Teacher. We have a clerical member of staff and a school janitor. We also have visiting specialists for instrumental tuition, Speech and Language Therapy and specialised ASN input.
The school prides itself in providing the best possible support and environment for our young people, tailoring education to the child’s needs. This often requires staff, students and parents to be dynamic and flexible – adapting and changing to make sure we are doing the best for each child.
A Learner Journey
A student at Baltasound Junior High School will experience a wide and varied learner journey, from age 3 in Nursery all the way to age 16 in S4 and beyond. The image below tries to capture the outline of this journey; showing how the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) Levels in the Broad General Education stage, match in with National Qualifications (SQA) in the Senior Phase.
We have consulted with Parents, Students and Staff as to our core values, which are included in the diagram above. We have also consulted with all stakeholders as to what makes our school unique. This highlighted:
- We are the most northerly school on the most northerly island in the UK.
- Our location on planet earth is unique and has been the driving force in the types of industry we have seen here on our island. During the herring boom the population of Unst swelled to 10,000 at peak season and we have a rich history of fishing and boating.
- RAF SaxaVord, an early warning radar system was positioned here in the 1960s protecting the seas and skies of the UK.
- Unst Airport, during the 1980s and 1990s Unst’s location made it the ideal location to support the oil industry in the North Sea.
- Shetland Space Centre is the most recent enterprise which, if realised, will make Unst one of the UKs most important locations for launching small satellites into orbit. The staff at SSC have been in school on several occasions to discuss their plans for the future and possible future career opportunities.
- Inclusion – we include everyone, all of the time.
- We have a fantastic community who are actively part of the school and want to contribute their time and effort.
- Our school journey goes from age 3 to 16 – although we have toddlers and infants in our Bookbug sessions and we have had S5 students work towards Highers as well as individual arrangements with the Shetland College – the needs of the individual student dictate what happens beyond the age of 16.
- Our staff care passionately about each individual student and regularly go above and beyond in their quest to support students.
- We live in an amazing and unique natural environment and we need to learn about it, learn from it and learn in it as much as we can.
Combined with National and Local Guidance and the Curriculum Design Principles, this forms the basis of our Curriculum at Baltasound JHS. This is shown in the image below – click on the image for a high resolution version.