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Education / Inspectors confirm plans to visit Sandwick school again

Inspectors being back for a third visit is “not something that anybody can be proud of” – but progress is being made, SIC education chair says

An image of Sandwick Junior High School taken from uphill. Photo © Mike Pennington (cc-by-sa/2.0)

EDUCATION Scotland has written to all parents and carers at Sandwick Junior High to confirm that the school needs more time to take forward recommendations from a 2019 inspection.

Inspectors will carry out another visit to the school within the next nine months.

An improvement plan was put in place in 2019 following a less than satisfactory inspection report.

While a number of strengths were noted, the school was deemed ‘weak’ in three out of four categories after the Education Scotland visit.

After a return visit in June – which had been delayed by the Covid pandemic – parents and carers were told that more time would be needed to take forward the 2019 recommendations.

This has now been confirmed in another letter after a full report on the June visit was compiled by inspectors.

The letter acknowledges progress that has been made from their previous inspection in May 2019, including the refreshed vision and values for the school, the development of new courses and programmes and the introduction of curriculum frameworks to support teachers with their planning. 

Children and young people also have a better understanding of the purpose of their learning compared to the 2019 visit, according to inspectors.

The letter also recognises the challenges the school has faced in dealing with all the aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic over the last two years.

But there continues to be weaknesses within the school related to the four recommendations from the 2019 inspection – around strategic leadership, the curriculum, learning, teaching and assessment, and approaches to checking the progress of children. 

Shetland Islands Council’s education and families committee chair Davie Sandison said: “A huge amount of work is going on within the school, with the support of the local community and the Council’s Children’s Services, to progress the required improvements.

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“There is a real unity, purpose and desire within the Sandwick Junior High School community to improve the school.”

Speaking to BBC Radio Shetland on Tuesday evening Sandison also said while progress has been made, “it’s simply not been completed and not fast enough”.

He confirmed that external scrutiny is being brought it to look at how officials has managed the situation.

“I’m very, very keen that the staff morale and the staff motivation is not damaged here, and that we recognise that progress has been, and is being made.”

But Sandison said the fact that inspectors will be back for a third visit is “not something that anybody can be proud of”.

The education and families committee will receive a full report on the Education Scotland findings and progress since June 2022 at its next meeting in November.

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