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We had a fantastic year in 2022/23, starting off with finding out we were Primary school of the year for making a difference back in November!  This is an amazing achievement for a small school.  We had a big celebration attended by Skippinish and we even got to be on the telly!  See the video clip above for more.

We had another great year for the Maths Inside Photo contest, Ella came first in the 2nd Level category In The Wild and Ayla was the overall winner of the In The Wild category for her Ferny Fractals photo.  We continued Maths Success with three silver winners Chloe Bonar P7, Iona Kirkpatrick P7 and Evie Wood P6.  We also had our first outdoor learning trip since Covid to Ardentinny.


We started the year with Covid mitigations in place, but many of these had relaxed by the end of the session.  At the start of the session P5-7 did a food topic and delivered food gift bags to local covid heroes- ferry, doctors, post office and co-op staff- which contained the food they had learned to make. We took part in maths week Scotland again in September, learning about baking and maths and successfully taking part in the Maths Inside Photo competition.  Elana was commended in the early years section for her ‘How many fish in the sea?’ photo, while Iona and Connor got a Second Level highly commended for their photos of trees cut down and pages in a book.  Finlay achieved a Second level winning entry with his photo of the fishing boats in Port Ellen called ‘Don’t count your fish before you catch!’.  Finally Evie was an overall category winner for Climate Change for her entry, ‘Plenty more fish in the sea?’.

Our first whole school project was based around COP26 which took place in Glasgow.  P5-7 were involved in the message in a bottle project which took the views of Island school children around the globe and turned them into a video for the members of COP26.  They also wrote essays which were published online and grilled their local MSP.   P2-7 made bags and other things out of recycled denim after video conferencing with eco fashion company Ark Defo from Edinburgh.

In November we had more photography success with three highly commended photos from Caillin, Katie and William in the @scottishcivictrust My Place Photo competition (William then achieved another highly commended in May 22 in the following years competition).  Parents, pupils and staff made up 36 shoeboxes for this years @BlythswoodCare Shoebox appeal.  We did healthy exercise to raise £340 for Children in Need, also in November.  Soarcha and Katie were winners of the Ileach’s design a Christmas front cover competition in December- Katie’s second year in a row!  Katie then continued her artistic success winning the school £100 of art supplies in the National Galleries of Scotland Art World Online competition.  

In the new year we received hedging and fruit trees from the Woodland Trust, which we planted (unfortunately the deer ate the fruit trees!).  We raised £190 for Comic Relief in March.  P7s took part in transition events with the primaries this term, including rugby and gaelic sports.  We carried out a fantastic whole school project on distilling, visiting local distilleries and building our own distilleries in class.  We used our Kick Start funding for British science week to carry out fractional distillation and learn about our senses and smell for our whisky project.  In June we held a very out of season Panto for parents to attend- Pirates of the Curry Bean!

In May, for the first time in 2 years, we were able to have parents in school at a celebration of learning.  This is when we learned we had received a silver award for primary school of the year- Making a difference- in the UK wide Pearson Teaching awards.  This is a fantastic achievement for a wee school on an island.  We will find out in November in London the winner in our category of the Gold award, so fingers crossed!


After a difficult end to the previous session we started 2020-21 with a revised operation plan for managing risk due to the covid pandemic. There were many changes to cope with, from breaks, lunches and class bubbles to handwashing, sanitisers and face masks.  Term started well, with children and staff happy to be back in school and getting on with work and lots of lovely outdoor learning.  There would be no national Mod this year, nor any school trips, but we still found ways to keep learning and achieving.

We took part in maths week Scotland in September, with online origami, games design and shape hunts.  We entered the Maths Inside photo competition where children had to take a photo and explain the maths behind the image, and had great success winning the highly commended schools award.  Elena Miteva, Teddy Denby and Dylan Atkinson-Macdonald were all commended at second level for their take on flower calendars, jumping and hair growth.  Christopher Jamieson was second level best commentary winner for his calculations of the amount of water used washing your hands since Covid hit.  Finally, Dylan Mackie was the overall winner of the Best Commentary Award for his calculations of whisky tax revenue from distilleries on Islay.

In November we raised £256.34 for Children in need by wearing pyjamas to school.  Dr Darko Maricevic did a video conference with P5-7 for their Mesolithic topic.  We also received our STEM nation award from Education Scotland for effective practice in STEM education.

In December we raised £112.20 for Save the Children on Christmas Jumper day.  Katie Harrison in P7 won the Ileach’s design a front cover for the Christmas edition competition and Santa came to school in his tractor and sleigh for a visit just in time for Christmas!

Unfortunately we were again closed in January due to the covid pandemic, which meant a return to online learning via Seesaw.  We had themed learning  weeks: authors, Scotland, Birds, Eco week,  healthy eating, french and 3D CAD modelling.  In February we received our CR-IS award for Cyber Resilience and Internet Safety from Digital Schools Awards Scotland.  In March we got to all go back to school and raised £217.50 for Red Nose day.  In May we learned that Dylan Mackie, Robyn Logan and Phoenix Davey had all won silver medals in the Scottish Maths Challenge, completing challenging maths problems even during lockdown!

Evie Wood’s Shop in a Box, created with money raised from winning the social enterprise award last session,  officially opened in June selling goods she and others have made to raise money for the school and the RSPB. Our Endeavour fair was written up on the Scotland’s Enterprising Schools website and included painted stones, driftwood craft and soaps and cards for sale.  Robyn Logan won the International Covid Hero Essay competition for her piece about her mum and dad in Lockdown.  We were awarded our eighth Green Flag from Eco Schools Scotland.   Finally in July we learned that Soarcha won the Marine Stewardship Council’s design a sea creature competition for her amazing Rainbow Angler Fish.


We started the 2019-20 session really positively with a visit from STV weatherman Sean Batty for his Big Breakfast appeal in September, when we raised £340. In October we entered the maths inside challenge. When you enter you have to take a picture that showcases an aspect of maths.  Harmoni Edwards, Aiden Munro and Drew Brown all got placed in the competition and Dearbhla Newman won the second level prize for writing her name in binary code.  The National Mod this year was held in Glasgow. Out of the choir Chalet and Dearbhla got first in duets, and Finley got second on his solo.  Also Charlet got third for her solo and her poem.  The choir won four of their five songs.  We received funding from the Scottish Governments STEM nation award for Mrs Clark to provide CLPL training in digital skills like robotics to all the primary school teachers on Islay and Jura. Rhuraidh Blair was a runner up in the Scottish Civic Trust’s My Place photography competition.

Unfortunately in late March the Coronavirus Pandemic hit and the school was closed.  Luckily we had all adopted Seesaw for a PLP this year and were using it to record learning-we were now able to repurpose the platform to provide online learning activities and were amazed and the range of learning taking place at home.  We even had a retweet from NASA for one of our activities!  During lockdown we found out that  Scott Hope, Drew Brown, Harmoni Edwards and Millie Holyoake achieved bronze medals in the Scottish Maths Challenge.  Also that Ayla Denby won the Auchindrain essay competition for her cat story.   Finally Evie Wood was a winner in the Social Enterprise Academy Schools competition with her idea to turn an old phone-box into a shop. Along with selling merchandise, Evie will sell her lino-prints and felted figures to support RSPB Scotland, South Islay Development Group and the school.


In November 2019 Port Ellen received the Eden Award for the best environmental project at the Rolls Royce Science prize ceremony at the British Museum in London.  Being one of 6 finlaists out of 2,000 this was a real achievement and followed a year of hard work on our renewables topic.

The National Mod this year was held in Dunoon. The choir won Choral – Puirt-a-beul Under 13 and the unison.  We received funding from the DigitalXtra Fund to buy equipment to run a resilient robotics club and carried out transition events for Gaelic and English medium pupils on Islay.  In the Scottish Maths Challenge this year we were successful with 4 bronze and one gold medal winner.  Aaron Clarke attended the awards ceremony at Strathclyde University to receive his Gold Certificate and mug.  After a successful Plastic Pollution topic with Bowmore Primary 3 children from each school attended the Primary Science Education Conference in Edinburgh and got to talk to MEPs about plastic pollution.


This year Port Ellen were working towards their entry as finalists in the Rolls-Royce science competition with their engineering Renewables project.  We will find out if we have won in November in London.   Entering the Young Imagineers competition as part of the project, we were pleased to have Sarah Maclennan reach the finals and she went away to London to present her Scaredy Sheep design to the judges, where she was a runner up.  We also entered the BP Stem Challenge.  P45 sent 4 students away to Glasgow for the Celebration of science and engineering where they were finalists in the Knotts to Watts wind turbine design competition.  In December we became the first school in Argyll and Bute to gain a Digital Schools Award.

Matthew continued his photography success, winning the Bowmore Distillery junior photography competition.  Port Ellen took part in the Islay wide WW100 memorial event, carrying flags in the parade.  The National Mod this year was held in Fort William. The choir won Choral – Puirt-a-beul Under 13 and the unison, Rowan and Rebecca came first in the under 13 duet and Rowan came first in the poetry.  They also performed in a joint choir with Bowmore primary at the national and local mods, and won all their competitions at the local Islay Mod.


The National Mod this year was held in Stornaway. The choir came first in the Unison and also got a second in our Puiert a Bheil. Lots of soloists also had success, Rowan and Rebecca won the duet, Rowan came first and Rebecca third in the poetry and Eva came third in the poetry.   We also acheived our 6th green flag this year, for the schools continuing hard work on Eco action. In February we found out that 2 pupils in P567 had achieved success in the National Photography competition, My Place, run by the Scottish Civic Trust.  Ruaraidh was a highly commended runner up, and Matthew Campbell was the overall winner in the primary category.  In May we received the results of the Scottish Maths Challenge with 2 children receiving a bronze and 5 children receiving a silver, with Rebecca and Kaitlyn only one point away from a gold!  Jack Shaw was also a runner up in the Tesco Bank and Scottish National Galleries art competition with his fantastic flying machine picture, choosen out of over 2,000 entries.

In a year long history project the whole school was studying Islay history from the mesolithic era right up until Grannie’s kitchen.  We created a tapestry for Scotland’s Diaspora which was put on display in St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh.  We have also created a timeline of quilts with the Islay quilters representing history on Islay.  P567 joined with other schools on the island and with Islay Heritage in a year long archaeology project, where they took part in a dig at the Giant’s Grave and surveyed the local Kilbride Chapel, finally putting on an exhibition at teh Gaelic college.

Finally in June we were invited to the Scottish Education awards where we were delighted to learn we had won the award for STEM teaching, a fantastic end to a successful year!



The National Mod this year was held in Oban, and for the first time Port Ellen also entered a boys choir, who got second in the Unison.  The main choir came first in the Unison and Two Part. We also got a third in our Puiert a Bheil. Lots of people were placed in individual and duets as well.  In February Jasmine Middleton was placed second in the Argyll and Bute writing competition for her WW1 inspired piece.  Primary 3,4 took part in space science in May, growing rockets seeds for citizen science that had actually been in space!  We had more gardening success when Rebecca and Mirren’s One planet Picnic Pocket Garden design was a winner in the Eco Schools Scotland competition.  Their garden, Hogwarts Buzzing Garden, was on display in Edinburgh at the Scottish Garden Show. We also had success in the Scottish Maths Challenge, with four bronze medal winners and Kaitlyn Clarke in P6 got a Silver and was only one point away from a gold.  She went to receive her award in Glasgow.  In June the choir also did very well in the Islay Mod, and Rowan Morris ended up covered in medals.  Finally in June Bronagh, Joe, Kaya and Murray went to Edinburgh University to test their Wave Islay device for the Junior Saltire Awards, and then attended the awards ceremony at the Glasgow Science Centre.  After taking part in some science challenges they found they had won the award for best group STEM team challenge and also the Junior Saltire Award.  What a successful year!



ANNIE We have had another great year that has seen a lot of changes.  Miss MacRae left at the end of last year to take up a temporary headteachers post on Islay and she now has job as a Headteacher in the Highlands and we wish her all the best.   As always we did very well at the national Mod in Inverness, winning the choral unison rural primary, choral Puirt-a-beul and choral 2 part harmony learner, as well as lots of individual success. In November we were very pleased to learn we had achieved our fifth green flag after a visit from Eco Schools Scotland.  P7 also held a poignant remembrance service and their letters and writing from the service led them to become finalists in the Scottish Legions Remembrance writing competition. In December we  learned that Annie Farrell in P7 was the overall winner of the Argyll and Bute road Safety calendar competition. In March Bronagh Newman in P6 travelled to Westminster to receive her prizes for winning the Scottish  section of the Sky Rainforest rescue poster competition.  Primary 5&6 also did well in another writing competition, with highly commendeds and finalists in the international sustainable education essay competition. In June the Islay Pipe Band announced the winner of the competition to name their CD was Emma McNeill,  with the title ‘Fuaim Na Pioba'( Sound of the Pipes).   Finally part of the animation created by P7 and P3&4 for the BBC Ten Pieces project was shown along with responses from other schools at the Royal Albert Hall in July during the Proms.


scentWe had a Education Scotland school inspection this year during panto week, and were very pleased when the school and nursery achieved very goods across the board.   We also managed a successful panto too!
This year the national Mod was in Paisley and the choir won all their competitions, with many solo and duet successes as well, including Abbie Morris who won solo poetry and singing for her age group.  The choir also performed well at the Islay Mod. We had lots of writing success, with Nic Weatherhogg coming second in the Argyll and Bute writing competion, then Abbie Morris was a runner up and Asher Borthwick highly commended in the National Galleries Of Scotland writing competition. Asher went on to further success, winning a book token for his Vietnam story in the Scottish Herald writing competition.  Along with David Baker he was also a finalist in the International essay competition, ‘What Sustainable Living Means to Me.’ He travelled down to Oxford in July to discover he had come second place, out of nearly 2,000 entries from 73 countries around the world.  He also won the best contributor award for the debates he took part in at the event. Elizabeth Macmillan was a runner up in the British Science Council competition to design an invention for the future, and Maisie Logan was a runner up in the My Place photography competition. Primary 4&5 had success with their Scent Citizens social enterprise business.  They went to Edinburgh in June to receive a Social Enterprise  Award from John Swinney MSP, and are now selling their soaps in a shop in Inverness as a result of attending the event. Port Ellen once again reached the finals of the Scottish Enterprise Awards for Enterprise in Education, and enjoyed attending a glittering event even though they didn’t win.


saltire_testOur success at National Mods continued again this year, when the choir travelled to Dunoon. As well as success for the choir in the competition, we had lots of individual entries that did well, including first prize for Maisie in the poetry recital. A budding author was revealed when Elinor Baker in P7 came second in the Argyll and Bute writing competition. Primary 6&7 were in the news in the TES Magazine with their Endeavour projects, a new style of independant learning. Mike Russell, the Education minister for Scotland, visited us for our Burns Ceilidh. We continued a long run of shinty success winning the Islay Shinty Tournament again, and the team got to travel to Oban later in the year to compete against more experienced teams. Primary 5 learned about rivers and reared their own salmon in class, and produced a game to help teach about rivers, which won first prize and some fishing rods for the island. Finally a group of P67 children travelled to Glasgow as finalists in the Junior Saltire awards, where they successfully generated electricity with their self built wave powered device, ending another great year of success.


awardsAt the start of the school session the Gaelic choir continued our run of success at the National Mod by winning all three sections they entered, with lots of other medals in the individual and duet competitions.We also won the National Bookswap competition and recieved a visit from the famous children’s author Vivienne French. Our first Gaelic day of celebration was a great event shared by the whole community. In January we heard that Harry Thomson was a finalist in the National Forest Pitch design a football strip competition, and he visited Hampden Park as a result. Port Ellen once again came first in the interschools shinty tournament for the senior matches, and a creditable second in the younger age group. In April we were once again successful in the National galleries of Scotland writing competition, when Liam Campbell was announced as a finalist and went to Edinburgh to hear his poem read. In May Port Ellen received its fourth green flag in recognition of all our hard eco work. At the local Islay Mod in June the choir won the Psalm and the Unison, and the Primary 1&2 class won the action song. We were very proud of the five finalists from Primary 6 who were the only Scottish finalists in the World wide Earth Summit Essay competition, whilst Asher Borthwick in primary 5 won the Islaywide schools poetry competition. A team of 5 Primary 6&7 pupils also retained the title of Best Presentation by a science club in the National Celebration of Science and Engineering in Glasow this year. Finally, the whole school deserves a huge pat on the back as we were winners at the Scottish Education Awards for the school with the best use of Technology in Education. Well done everyone, another year of great achievements small and large!


Port_Ellen_scienceEarly on in the school year we once again came back winners from the National Mod in Caithness. Eilidh and Anna Macdonald had a splendid competition, with them winning The Angus MacTavish Memorial Trophy Gold Badge for duet singing U13. Eilidh then came first in the poetry recitation age 11-12, with Anna in joint third with Zoe from Bowmore. The choir won the Choral Unison Rural Primary- Badenoch & Strathspey Area Trophy. They also came third in the Choral Puirt-a-beul Learner U13.
Danni, Scott, Ruby and James were runners up in the Scottish Governments St Andrews day poster competition, designing a food poster about Islay. In January Primary 6&7 put on a fantastic fashion show with bags they had designed and made from recycled clothes, learning how to use a sewing machine and iron in the process. In March Primary 4&5 held a museum exhibition for the local community after help from the National Museum of Scotland. Primary 2&3 took part in the Climate Week Challenge, designing eco machines to sell. Scott Kinloch was a runner up in the National Galleries of Scotland Get writing Competition and went to Edinburgh to hear his poem read aloud. In June the Gaelic Choir were once again winners at the Islay Mod, doing very well in all competitions. The Primary 1&2 children were visited by the King of the land of Me, software designer James Huggins, visiting to see the fabulous work they had done as a pilot school using his innovative software for early years. Reece, Ewan and Scott were winners of the Islay Triathalon Junior Boys team competition. Finally, Emily, Eilidh, Ellen, Scott, Jason and Ewan from Primary 4&5 visited the National Celebration of Science and Engineering at the Glasgow Science Centre, where they won the BT award for Best Presentation by a science club for their SOS Save Our Seas topic.


biodiversityThe Gaelic choir again triumphed at the national Mod in Oban. They came first in the Puirt-a-beul: Olive Campbell Trophy (under 13), and we are all very proud of them! In their second competition, unison singing (rural primaries) they came joint third. They also won at the Islay Mod.
Primary 4&5 entered the National British Food Fortnight competition by cooking a three course meal for their parents using only locally sourced ingredients. They won lots of tea towels, aprons and electric mixers for the school. We achieved our third green flag in October and we are now working towards our 4th. Our shinty team The Funky Monkeys again won the Islay and Jura shinty tournament in November. We had winners in the Argyll and Bute road safety competition, with Anna Macdonald winning her age group encouraging people to belt up. Eilidh Macmillan was a runner up in the National Galleries of Scotland Get Writing competition in March and went to Edinburgh to hear her poem read aloud in the National Gallery. At the end of the year Alice Grey won the UNESCO Biodiversity poster competition for her fabulous jigsaw poster, and we also had runners up. Well done to everyone who helped make it a successful year!

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