Dream job: £61,000-a-year headteacher vacancy on remote island of Foula

Teachers dreaming of escaping the grind and grime of inner-city schools could find themselves working on a tiny island in Shetland

By Stephen Wilkie
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 5:42 pm

The “once in a lifetime opportunity” is at Foula Primary School, 16 miles off the west of the Shetland mainland and one the remotest inhabited isles in the United Kingdom.

The post comes with a £61,374 salary, which equates roughtly to £15,000 for each of the four pupils currently being educated there.

Foula – population just 28 – has no pub and no shop other than a post office and islanders abide by the Julian calendar for festivities, celebrating Christmas both on December 25th and January 6th.

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Remote but beautiful: Foula offers a complete change of lifestyle

To get there you have to either take the ferry from Walls in Shetland’s west mainland, which takes around two hours, or a 15 minute flight from Tingwall.

Leona Gear, who grew up in Foula, said the school is “essential because the community needs families to survive and grow”.

She added: “It is also a great opportunity for someone to take on the headteacher role and live and work in a beautiful place unlike anywhere else.”

The successful applicant for the post will also be offered a three-bedroom rented house.

Foula Primary has just four pupils and one infant in its nursery

Chairman of Shetland Island Council’s education and families committee Davie Sandison said it was important for vacancies at remote schools to secure healthy levels of interest.

“Like any posting in Shetland for a head teacher in some of our remote schools, it’s a unique opportunity and it must be a really attractive opportunity for the right candidate,” he said.

The island appeared in the 1937 film The Edge of the World, which was about the eviction of St Kilda off the west of Scotland.

In 2017, the school, built in 1992 and consisting of one classroom and a nursery area, had just one pupil on the roll.

Following new arrivals there are now four primary age pupils and one child in the nursery. The school also has its own solar array and a polytunnel for growing vegetables.

The job advert reads: “Are you a Head Teacher or aspiring Head Teacher looking for an exciting new challenge? Do you dream of being part of a friendly, dynamic island community with a slower pace of life?

“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity for an enthusiastic Head Teacher to work in Foula. With a permanent population of just 28 people, Foula is a welcoming community where you can create an idyllic island home.”