Island challenge

Being a probationer back home on Shetland has provided some surprises for Alison Watt.

Primary Teacher, Dunrossness Primary School

After studying for my BEd in Aberdeen, I decided to go home to Shetland for my induction year. I was placed in a P2 class in the third biggest primary school in Shetland. The school's roll is around 140, with 16 pupils in P2.

A daunting start

The experience was daunting to begin with, as I had never taught a P2 class. The size of the school was also different to the many large city schools I had been placed in. The most surprising thing is that almost all the children come to school on buses as the catchment area I rural.

Support network

I quickly settled into the school with the help of my mentor. We meet every Tuesday and discuss arising issues, like parents' evenings, national testing and organising the classroom assistants. This has been useful, especially in the beginning to clarify any uncertainties that I had.

The authority has provided input on topical educational issues and this has been beneficial in providing support in my first year of teaching. There are only three probationers in Shetland this year, so there is a limit to what the authority can offer.

I often find myself discussing issues with friends who are teaching on the mainland because a discussion with two other people is restrictive. At a recent conference in Edinburgh I met lots of other probationers and this was a great opportunity to share information. The downside is that it is expensive for the education authority as supply cover is needed and transport costly.

Non-contact time

The 0.3 non-contact time has helped me to familiarise myself with the school and its resources. I have spent part of this time shadowing other members of staff in the school and visiting other schools, from a primary with 300 pupils to a two-teacher school.

My own area of enjoyment is ICT and I have been developing this with my class. I have recently extended this to the P5 class, taking out small groups weekly.

Next term I hope to set up a programme in which the classes pair up for ICT. This work has been invaluable to the children and a great experience for me, made possible by the 0.3 non-contact time.


The induction year has been a wonderful experience, having been spent in an excellent school where staff and pupils have made me very welcome. This has been a great foundation on which to build my teaching career.