Oban head teacher to fly to island for second role

The island of Tiree. Picture: Jane Barlow
The island of Tiree. Picture: Jane Barlow
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The head teacher of a mainland school is to make flying visits to the Hebrides to take on a second role as head on the isle of Tiree.

Argyll and Bute Council has appointed Peter Bain, head of Oban High School, to fill a gap left with the departure of former Tiree head Graham Wilks, who left to take on a new teaching role on Friday.

Mr Bain, who will be tasked with implementing an improvement plan at Tiree, made the half-hour flight to the island on Monday and is due to fly out again today with council officials to meet staff, parents and community representatives.

In a letter to parents, Louise Connor, the council’s head of learning and teaching, said the meeting would allow any questions about the move to be answered.

Mr Bain will continue his role at Oban, where there are more than 1,000 pupils. He will also lead the implementation of improvements as outlined in a recent internal report by the council on Tiree School where there are 30 high school pupils, plus 50 in the primary classes.

A parent, who did not want to be named, said: “We received a copy of the internal report which was carried out by Argyll and Bute Council which highlights issues with leadership and teaching and it seems that Peter Bain is coming in here to provide strong leadership and expertise.

“We understand this is an interim arrangement, but we haven’t been told all the details. They have said that he will be going in one day a week in the beginning and there might be two days a week at some point and early next year there are plans for him to come here for a week.”

The source said they knew some parents had moved their children to mainland schools as they were unhappy with the educational provision at Tiree and added: “A lot of people have thought for a long time that Tiree High School has needed a change of model on how it is run. Maybe this is what we need.”

The council report summary said: “There are a range of identified weaknesses in the strategic leadership of the school, which require to be immediately addressed. The leadership remits and responsibilities in the school need to be clarified, including principal teachers.”

It also stressed the need for policies to be put in place around key areas such as ­literacy, numeracy learning and teaching.

Will Wright, vice-­chairman of Tiree Parent Council, said: “Parents are looking forward to hearing from the local authority and the new head teacher what their plans and their commitment are to the long-term future of the school.”

Argyll and Bute Conservative Councillor Alastair Redman, from Islay, said: “I have no doubt that the headmaster of Oban will do a wonderful job being headmaster of Tiree as well.

“That said, we also have to consider the cost to the taxpayer. It’s a balance between service and cost and I think better contingency plans should have been in place so that there didn’t have to be a stop-gap solution.”

A spokesman for Argyll and Bute Council said: “We would like to thank Mr Wilks for his time at Tiree High School and wish him the very best in his new job. Elected members and senior education officers will be meeting with the parent council and Tiree High School community to discuss secondary education on Tiree.”