THE head teacher at Dunbeg school and Port Ellen Primary on Islay have won prestigious national awards at a glittering ceremony in Glasgow.
A DUNBEG head teacher and an Islay primary school have both scooped prestigious honours at this year’s Scottish Education Awards.
Port Ellen Primary School was awarded the prize for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), and the Lifetime Achievement Award was scooped by Sine MacVicar, who retires on June 30 after 44 years teaching at Dunbeg Primary School, including 25 years as its head teacher.
Sine travelled to the ceremony in Glasgow with three pupils, Calum Drummond, Cara Duncan and Fergus Beard, to hear if she had won. ‘I did not find out until the day,’ she said. ‘You have to sit in agony and wait. I had to wait until the end.’
When her name was announced she said she ‘jumped’ out of her seat. She recalled: ‘I realised I could not do it alone, so grabbed the children. It was so great the kids were there, because I was gobsmacked. The kids were up on stage before me. Everyone got up and said, “44 years”.’
The award was presented by education minister John Swinney. School secretary Vivianne Clark said Cara told the audience Ms MacVicar had ‘inspired so many kids over 44 years, and that it must have been difficult’.
Sine told the crowd: ‘I have loved every month of my 44 years, and I still do.’
There was also a live link to the school so pupils could watch – and cheer. ‘I got a video clip of them all shouting,’ she said.
The former Oban High School pupil studied for three years at Craigie College of Education in Ayr, and arrived aged 21 to start work at Dunbeg Primary in 1973. ‘I think of myself as a Dunbeg girl now,’ she said.
‘There have been huge changes in education,’ she reflected. ‘There was the warmth I still feel. The school has expanded: I have been in with the bricks as they built around me. I have always taught primary one. I am now at the stage of teaching three generations.’
She is spending her last working weeks ‘winding up’ and tackling ‘44 years of clutter’, around a trip to London’s Park Lane on June 23 for the TES Awards, where she is one of eight nominees for Head Teacher of the Year. The next day sees her party with former colleagues and pupils in the Argyllshire Gathering Halls, to which anyone is invited if they contact the school for tickets.
‘There is a lot of dread in leaving,’ she added. ‘I have not had time to think about the consequences at the other end. I cannot honestly say what I am going to do.
‘I am not taking up gardening, or baking or knitting. I am a people person, so I would hope to help within the community. I am going to carry on with the Brownies in Connel.
‘When you get to 65, it is time to go,’ she said. ‘I have always aimed to create an ethos of caring warmth, and I have always hoped children will be happy and want to come to school every day.
‘I just look on them as my family. I follow what they do now and I am so proud of what they are doing, no matter what they are doing. Thank you all for the privilege of sharing in your lives, and being able to follow your successes. I want to thank the dedicated and committed members of the staff, past and present, who have contributed to my love of being head teacher at Dunbeg Primary School.’
Vivianne, a former pupil, added: ‘She is an inspiration, an excellent boss.’
Sine MacVicar travelled with pupils, Calum Drummond, Cara Duncan and Fergus Beard.
Port Ellen’s Maggie Harrison, left, and Alison Logan with pupils Charlotte-Rose Munro, Rowan Morrison and Natalie Logan.