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Full marks for teacher Irene Smith

150610 Irene Smith - 'a tower of educational strength'

A SHETLAND teacher has won a prestigious prize at this year’s Scottish Education Awards.

Irene Smith from Lerwick’s Bell’s Brae Primary School picked up the lifetime achievement award at the ceremony held on Wednesday at the Thistle Hotel in Glasgow.

The teacher, who has worked at the school since 1976, was due to retire this spring, but she agreed to take on the role of acting head teacher until the summer.

She has been described as “hardworking, caring and extremely passionate about teaching”.

Ollaberry Primary School’s Marianne Raikes meanwhile was nominated in the ‘headteacher of the year’ category.

However, she lost out on the day to winner Mairi McFarlane from King’s Oak Primary School in Inverclyde.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott commented that Smith’s win highlights how the isles benefit from a strong education system.

He also tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament to recognise Smith and Raikes’ success.

“This is a tremendous achievement for Shetland’s schools,” he said. “Irene has been a tower of educational strength at Bells Brae Primary School and thoroughly deserves this Scotland-wide accolade.

“She has taught generations of young Shetlanders and as one, I am immensely proud of her commitment to the islands and to our future.

“Marianne’s nomination in the ‘head teacher of the year’ category is a triumph for her and for a small island school. These awards are a fitting recognition of the strengths we have in Shetland and on which we must all build.”

SIC education and families committee chairwoman Vaila Wishart added: “I think this is an award which is well deserved.

“Irene has been a stalwart member of staff in the school for many years. I’m sure all of her pupils, past and present, would join me in congratulating her. Well done.”