Baltasound Junior High School, on the Shetland island of Unst, is currently the most northerly school in Britain.
It opened following the Education Act of 1872 which required public schools to built throughout the country. There were three on Unst, at Haroldswick, Baltasound and Uyeasound. Baltasound Public School opened in 1879 and the original building is now used as the Youth Centre.
The school expanded after the Second World War when the school leaving age was raised and the HORSA blocks (Huts On Raising School-Leaving Age) were built. Some of these still remain and are used for storage, but they were used by classes right up until 1995, despite being designed as temporary buildings.
The current Secondary Department was built in the 1960s and opened in 1968. The Music Hut was added in 1980. There used to be a swimming pool where the staff room and Art Room are now, but this closed once the Unst Leisure Centre was opened. The new Art Room was opened in 1991.
In 1995, a new Primary department building was opened, beside Trolla Water.
The School currently provides Nursery, Primary and Secondary education for the whole of Unst (students from Fetlar Primary join us every Thursday). Students can enrol from age 3 (age 2 in certain circumstances) and stay on the same campus, moving through the school, until age 16 where they are presented for their National Qualifications. After the age of 16, students can choose to go to the Anderson High School (and board at the Anderson High School Halls of Residence) to continue their education, Shetland College or into employment.
Only 20 people have been head teacher at Baltasound, many of these for just a few months,and just four people held the post during the 93 years from 1916 to 2009!
- Mr Paul Thomson has been Head Teacher since May 2016.
- Mrs Maggi Reyner was Head Teacher from January 2013 until August 2015.
- Mrs Anne O’Neill, worked at the school since the 1980s and was in the Head Teacher post from 2009 until January 2013 – unfortunately and unexpectedly, Mrs O’Neill died during the Christmas holidays of this year. She is fondly remembered by pupils and staff to this day.
- Mr Andrew Spence, was head from 1984 to 2009.
- Mr Samuel S. S. Polson was head from 1955 to 1984.
- Mr P. D Tait was head from 1938 to 1954.
- Mrs Margaret Hunter was head briefly in 1909, 1914 and 1915 before taking over from 1916 to 1938.
Maggi Reyner was the first Head Teacher to be head of both Baltasound Junior High School and Fetlar Primary School – under a shared management arrangement.
The very first head teacher was Mr D. J. White who was head from 1878 to 1902 and was previously head of the church school.
Between 1902 and 1916 there were frequent changes and, as well as Mrs Margaret Hunter, other head teachers included:, Miss Margaret Henderson, Miss Jane Robb, Mr D. J. Henderson (1902-1905), Miss Helen Muir, Mr John Smith, Mr John Spence, Miss Barbara Sutherland (1905-1907), Miss Grace McGarva (1907-1909), Miss R. Hayes, Mr N. J. Muir (1909-1914), Mr J. D. MacMillan and Miss Emma Reynolds. All those without dates were head for just a few months.