Papay Community School

Papay School is a peedie (small) school on one of the northernmost islands of Orkney, off the North coast of Scotland . This year we have 6 children in school, with ages ranging from 4 to 10. There are about 30 houses on our island and our families make a living through farming, fishing and craft work as well as running the island shop, post office and all the things that keep island life going.


We get quite a lot of summer visitors who come to enjoy our beautiful island, to see the bird life and to visit our historic sights the Knap of Howar is the earliest standing house in Northern Europe and St Boniface Kirk is one of the oldest Christian sites in the North of Scotland.


To reach us you would travel by boat from Kirkwall (2 ½ hours) or Westray (30 minutes), or you could fly in the 8-seater plane from Kirkwall (20 minutes). On our island there is a small airport and two piers the old pier and the new pier. The ferry comes to the new pier and it is loaded and unloaded by a crane.

Children come to our school starting with nursery when they are 3 or 4 years old. Then they start in Primary 1 when they are 4 or 5 years old. Then they go through Primary 2, Primary 3, etc until they finish in Primary 7, aged 11 or 12 years old. After that they go on to secondary school in Westray. To get to school in Westray they travel by boat, but if the weather is bad they sometimes have to come in to Papay School instead.


In Westray they go from Secondary 1 to Secondary 4, and then transfer to Kirkwall for Secondary 5 and 6. (They could transfer to Kirkwall earlier if they wanted.) When they go to Kirkwall they have to stay at the hostel in Kirkwall from Monday to Friday.


In our school we have one main classroom and one smaller nursery room leading off it. There is also an office, a library area, toilets and quite a lot of store rooms. We have a hall for drama, games and activities which families can use when the school is closed. We also have a school kitchen where our cook makes tasty school lunches. Outside we have a playground, a garden and a greenhouse where we grow flowers and vegetables.

There is also a play-park and a football field.


We have links with quite a lot of other schools through using ICT and snail mail. We also travel to Kirkwall to work with the other small island schools or join in with sports etc. In spring and summer we sometimes go across to Westray School or invite them to visit us, to do joint activities such as drama or sport, or just have a school day together.


We hope that has given you an idea of what our life is like.