Port Ellen is ‘Making a Difference – Primary School of the Year’

Port Ellen Primary School head teacher Maureen Macdonald with the award

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Port Ellen Primary School on Islay has received a silver award in the Pearson National Teaching Awards for ‘Making a Difference – Primary School of the Year’.

The awards celebrate excellence in education and recognise the life-changing impact an inspirational teacher can have on the lives of the young people they work with.

Port Ellen received one of 80 awards handed out, for its commitment to achieving excellence for all, enabling pupils to flourish in an environment that values every child, promotes high expectations and provides opportunities for achievement. The school has now been shortlisted to win one of just 16 Gold Awards later in the year.

Maureen Macdonald, head teacher at Port Ellen Primary School, said: ‘At Port Ellen primary we endeavour to provide an education that enables all our children, from early years through to primary seven, to acquire and develop the skills, knowledge and attributes needed to thrive in and to shape our ever-changing world.

‘We aim to give our learners the confidence to develop and celebrate their individuality and creativity and to help them see their worth and value in society.

‘I feel so privileged to work alongside passionate, conscientious staff and so proud of everyone in the school community who collectively support our children to be the best they can be and to realise their potential. That’s what makes the difference.’

In a recent survey about the school, parents said: ‘Brilliant school and amazing teachers’; ‘Wonderful supportive teachers’; ‘Staff are really approachable, I feel I have built good relationships with them’; ‘Fantastic School. Warm, safe and happy learning environment’; ‘Children are learning a wide range over and above literacy and numeracy’.

Argyll and Bute Council’s policy lead for education Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, said: ‘The Pearson National Awards are widely recognised for celebrating the best educators in the country, so it is wonderful news Port Ellen Primary School has been selected for a prestigious silver award.

‘Teachers play a vital role in our young peoples’ lives. From their earliest school days through to their senior years, a good teacher can have a massive impact. They can help young people grow in confidence and, with the right encouragement and teaching methods, can inspire our young people to achieve their goals.

‘I am extremely proud of everyone at Port Ellen for the commitment they continue to provide pupils with daily and I wish them all the very best as they progress through to the gold awards.’

Right Honorable Lord Robertson of Port Ellen KT GCMG HonFRSE PC, a former pupil of the school, said: ‘I want to congratulate the school most warmly for achieving the silver Pearson National Teaching award. This is a remarkable feat and all in the school can feel real pride. As someone who started his education in Port Ellen Primary School, I share the pride that will rightly be around in Port Ellen. It is a well-deserved accolade which is well worthy of a celebration.’

Silver award winners are being honoured as part of the wider celebrations for national ‘Thank a Teacher Day’, bringing together everyone across the country to celebrate the schools and colleges at the heart of communities.

  • Port Ellen Primary School is a small school with big ambitions, central to the heart of the community. It has a roll of 85 split between ELCC and three composite classes. The school is committed to achieving excellence for all, enabling pupils to flourish in an environment that values every child, promotes high expectations and provides opportunities for achievement.Children get to build award-winning wave powered devices, work with local partners to make Gaelic art and poetry, carry out archaeological surveys of local heritage sites, make and deliver ‘thank you’ food gifts for Covid-19 heroes, campaign against dog poo and build social enterprises in a phone box. Despite lacking access to mainland opportunities, the resourceful team makes best use of the local environment and technology to creatively tackle the challenges presented by its geographical isolation.