What is the difference between schools in Orkney and schools in England?

What is the difference between schools in Orkney and schools in England?

By Lottie 

Schools in Orkney are quite different to ones down south as you would expect especially during these confusing times but how different actually are they? 

Well firstly, there’s the size.  In schools in England you can expect to see about three different buildings/blocks with classes in and the number of pupils can range. In some you get around 800 but in others you can get thousands: it just depends on if it’s grammar school or not. But in Orkney they are much smaller schools.

And then there’s the Uniform…

In Orkney there aren’t uniforms: you get to wear what you like. But schools in England aren’t like that: you must wear a uniform in primary school and secondary school and that sometimes includes blazers, ties, socks, and there’s a uniform for PE too.  Brooke*, from  Stromness, said “It’s nice not wearing a uniform.  You feel comfy.”

Phones were a big issue down south too as people would go on them in class and so some schools have banned them. Louise, a school pupil in England, said “It’s a bit annoying because if you’re bored at break or lunch there’s nothing you can do except walk around with your friends”. Jamie said “if I want to get hold of my parents to ask something like can a friend come round I can’t, because phones are banned” However, Samantha Jane said “It’s got an up-side I guess: you talk to people more and socialize more and you actually catch up with friends”.

Being allowed into town is quite different as well.  In England you aren’t allowed to go down the street and all the gates are locked so you can’t get out.  If you do leave the grounds, then PSP (isolation) would be in order for a couple of days.

In Orkney you can go to nearby shops, which makes things freer and means you’re not limited to do certain things.

During these COVID times things make it even harder because in England schools are back full time. Jamie said, “I don’t really feel safe being back at school full time because although we are testing every morning, what if it gives a false positive or negative”?  Whereas Jemima said “I like being back. I didn’t like being at home. I couldn’t see friends and if I didn’t understand the work I had to email a teacher and wait”!

The thing Orkney schools and English schools have in common at the moment are masks.  Pupils have to wear masks all day, in classes and on public transport. Social distancing is difficult too as Maddy said “You just forget and stand next to someone, then jump apart when you realise, and that’s a pain”.

Sanitising is a bit different as well.  In Orkney there are dispensers on the walls as you go outside and come in but in England you should be bringing your own and sanitising when you know you should be. Jasmine said “It makes my hands sticky, and some sanitisers don’t smell the best”

Classrooms formats have changed as well: in Orkney schools there is tape on the desks where you can’t sit so you stay 2m apart from everyone else. Ella’s opinion on this is “It’s horrible, you don’t feel like you can talk, and you have to stay silent plus one slight movement and it makes the loudest noise.” Robert’s opinion is “I like it. Teachers can’t tell if you’re laughing or not because they can only see your eyes”.

In general, as you would expect, the rules are different on phones, uniform and school grounds.  But rules are in place for a reason…

So, the difference between Orkney Schools and England’s schools in these weird times and in the normal times are quite different but they are different in their own way and that good.

*names are changed for anonymity

Outside sport – football 

Outside sport – football 

by Max

Although most sports stopped and have only just started up not long-ago, outdoor football has been going since the Christmas holidays ended. Although some clubs have yet to start, some haven’t stopped apart from during the normal holidays and the time that it wasn’t possible to play due to COVID-19 restrictions.

There are also some clubs that have only started in the last week or two, and others are sure to be inviting players back soon as well.

The Orkney football programme of players going to trials to try and make it into the Orkney squad for their age group to compete against other teams from down-south such as Caithness and Ross County, and also play against rivals Shetland, will be going ahead.

The reason that this season of Orkney football has not started yet is because of the fact that some clubs have decide not to because there would be mixing between the players, although to rival this fact many of the players will be mixing anyway and things such as other sports, school and meeting up in free time.  

For some of the players this will be devastating as this will mean missing out on trips away and other opportunities, such as even just playing more football or meeting with other friends that they might not otherwise see.  

There have been some games between clubs in the secondary age group and there are set to be more occurring in the near future.  

Some people may think that this going ahead in the current state of the virus may be bad as social distancing is very hard to maintain during the playing of a contact sport but others would contradict this with the fact that the football is all being held outdoors in the secondary age group and also that all 34+ year olds and also the vulnerable people in Orkney have at least been offered the vaccine for COVID if not had it.  

Being back outside with friends and other peers can create a better state of mental health than that of sitting inside and talking to them on a voice call, and playing sports and running around is good for their physical health on top of that.  

The lockdown has been a tough time for everyone and it is good to see that at least some of the younger population are getting back to their sports like football. 

Different schools; different rules

Different schools; different rules 

By Lucy S

TWS is a large school in England.  If is quite different from Stromness Academy, which is a small school in rural Scotland. Pupils from each of these schools share their opinions of how the school rules differ in their experience.

The rules at TWS and the rules at Stromness Academy are extremely different. At TWS you’re not allowed to leave school during the school day and at a certain time a member of staff goes around and locks all the gates so no one can leave school, although there are a few ways you can leave the school but it’s risky.

However, at SA there is nothing like that: there is trust in the pupils and S2s and up can go down the street at lunch times and buy their lunch/food there instead of using the dining hall.

Talia*, a pupil at Stromness Academy, said, ‘I like the freedom you get here, you have lots of choice on how you spend your day’.

TWS have a phone ban so pupils must have their phones switched off and in their bags for the whole school day, and if a member of staff sees it out, they will take it off you and call a member of your family to go to the school and collect it.

Judy, a pupil at TWS said, ‘I hate the phone ban: nothing’s fun anymore.  There isn’t anything to do anymore; you just get bored’.

At SA you’re allowed your phone and some teachers play Kahoot!, a game which involves using your phones as a multiple choice control pad.

Edward. From SA, said, ‘Having your phone during school is very helpful and it gives you something to do.  I don’t think phones should be banned anywhere unless they have a really good reason to take action like that’.

TWS students must wear uniform and anything incorrect in the way you are wearing it must be corrected immediately or you will potentially be given a detention, or you will be sent to isolation (PSP).

At SA however, there is no uniform:  you can wear what you like and it’s up to you to dress appropriately.

Callum from TWS said, ‘I hate having to wear uniform, it’s so annoying.  If you get hot, you’re still wearing rather hot and tight clothes.  I wish I could wear my own clothes, that way I choose how I dress – not the school’.

TWS tend to give out detentions often to those who misbehave, and pupils often get sent to PSP (isolation) as well if they continue to misbehave or if what they have done deserve isolation.

Clare said, ‘Sometimes the teachers are unreasonable and just don’t listen to you and sometimes they don’t even let you explain, they’ll just punish you anyway’.

SA don’t have anything like that: the teachers are must more understanding and give you chances.

Jade-Rose said, ‘The teachers are understandable, and they listen to you, I like not having any strict rules in place’.

Overall, the two schools are completely different but unique and good in their own way.

“TWS is an amazing school despite any strict rules in place.  Follow them correctly and the experience will be great, and you will really enjoy it.  The teachers are understandable if you give them chance to get to know you, and soon the teachers will start being reasonable once some ground rules are laid down.”

So, there we have it: some very mixed opinions about the two schools and how different they really are.

*names have been changed for anonymity.

COVID – an overview 

COVID – an overview 

By Sarah-Jane 

COVID-19 has been the most talked about subject on the news since March 2020 and since the first lockdown I think we all wanted it to go away.  

Unfortunately, when the COVID cases went down the occasional group of people somewhere in the world would have a party and things would start up again 

Then a few months of staying inside and online school later the Corona virus vaccine was made by a very smart group of scientists, so here we are having people getting the vaccine all over the world.  

Here in Orkney, we are very lucky to not have as many people as some places like London. Having fewer people and sea borders makes it easier to prevent infections from coming into the county, and it is easier to track and contain the virus when there have been cases. 

Grooves Moves

Grooves planning big changes
by Aicha
The shop Grooves up at the Old Library in Kirkwall is currently being moved to a different location down in Albert Street.  Their toy shop will be moving to where the Edinburgh Woollen Mill store is, and their record, card and games shop will be moving to the Little Island shop.
They are also opening a new Grooves shop in Stromness and will be opening at 69-73 Victoria Street, and their Archive Coffee and the Sound Archive will stay in the Old Library in Laing Street.
All three shops are due to open this summer.
The shop Grooves up at the Old Library in Kirkwall is currently being moved to a different location down in Albert Street.  Their toy shop will be moving to where the Edinburgh Woollen Mill store is, and their record, card and games shop will be moving to the Little Island shop.
They are also opening a new Grooves shop in Stromness and will be opening at 69-73 Victoria Street, and their Archive Coffee and the Sound Archive will stay in the Old Library in Laing Street.
All three shops are due to open this summer.

Coronavirus vaccinations rolled out across Orkney 

Coronavirus vaccinations rolled out across Orkney 

By Lucy K

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, there is a chance things will return to normal soon. The vaccines are meeting their targets and Orkney is ahead of the rest of the United Kingdom, offering vaccines to all people over the age of 34. The number of cases in Orkney remains at 74 and the total deaths is 3.

Many people have been affected by the pandemic with one in eight adults (12.9%) developing moderate to severe depression and children suffering with not being able to socialize and see their friends. Now many pupils have started to return to school. 

People’s jobs have been affected by the pandemic. My dad who is self-employed and is in the fire service “My work was affected because the demand (for scallops) has decreased because of lockdown. The way we work at the fire station has also changed due to covid-19 restrictions.”   

My mum said, “I have got to spend more time with my family in my household, but I have not been able to see my mum and my sister.”

In Orkney they have given out different types of the vaccine. My dad who got the AstraZeneca vaccine on the 18th of February said he had an achy arm for the rest of the day. My mum got the Pfizer vaccine on the 21st of March and she said she had a sore arm which felt heavy and was tired. Many people are reacting differently to the vaccine some are unaffected, but some have been throwing up and not been very well. 

Lots of people have different opinions on the vaccine. Some people have said that they trust the vaccine because it is a tried and tested process which has been used to create other vaccines. Others also trust the doctors and scientists who are help keeping people safe.

Others who disagree with the vaccine have come up with many different conspiracy theories but a lot of people who refuse to get vaccinated say that not enough testing has been done and they think it was rushed through.  

The NHS website reassures people that “the vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).”

“Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety.”

If I am offered the vaccine I will definitely accept the offer and go get it because I think, by getting the vaccine, I would be helping others and helping stop this pandemic.

Experiencing lockdown

Experiencing lockdown

by Molly

One year after the first lockdown in March 2020, we have become quite used to our ‘new normal’.  Everyone in Britain has had different experiences, and in Orkney, we have been particularly lucky to have had a limited number of cases and very few deaths.

I wanted to find out how people from different age groups experienced the last year differently, by comparing the experience of Freya, a school pupil, to that of Caroline, an adult working in a care setting.

Caroline said, “When we went into lockdown, I was working at Smiddybrae Care Home.  I was very scared of taking it into the home where vulnerable people live.  We had very strict guidelines to follow but it was difficult to work and keep two metres away from other people.”

“I changed jobs during lockdown and my new jobs meant I was able to work from home.  I was happy about this as I felt safe and that I was keeping my family safe.  In my new job I haven’t known anything other than working from home.  Technology has really helped, and we have kept in regular contact via Zoom and Teams.”

Despite having a key-worker position, Caroline seems to have been able to avoid catching COVID: “I don’t think I have had it as I have not had any of the symptoms. Nobody I know has had it that they are sure about. I mean no-one has had a positive test.”

It was interesting to hear from someone who had experienced COVID. Freya said that “I unfortunately did have COVID, well me and my parents. We contracted it in January, we were all fine, but we were very tired and lost taste and smell.“  When I asked Freya if the pandemic had changed her, she replied “Yes, I have definitely changed, as I’m now far more aware of things like sanitising, cleaning, social distancing and mask wearing.”  This not surprising considering her experience.

Both interviewees agreed when asked if they noticed a difference between the summer and winter lockdowns.  Both enjoyed the summer lockdown and being able to enjoy the good weather. Caroline said, “I enjoyed the summer better as I could go walks with the dogs and meet friends in their gardens.” Freya also enjoyed the summer “I did find summer lockdown better as I always feel happier and more positive when the day light is longer, and I could go for walks and things like that even though winter lockdown wasn’t maybe as stressful as we were more used to the situation.”

Although both having very different experiences Caroline and Freya both felt positively about the vaccination programme and living in Orkney. Caroline said “this lock down has really made us Orcadians appreciate how lucky we are.” In agreement was Freya: “I am very glad we live here as for me personally it made me feel more positive and happier.  I also managed to go lots of walks as where I live I would meet no one on my walk.”

Some of the difference I noticed was that Caroline was more scared at the start as she could have brought it into her workplace. Freya found it hard in the summer, not allowed to be close and going inside but Caroline found it not so bad as she isn’t a cuddly person. Both felt very lucky to be in Orkney as they have realised how much more space we have and how lucky we are.

The New Nissan 400Z  

The new Nissan 400Z  

By Finlay 

The newest edition of the Nissan Z line-up will come in the form of the Nissan 400z 

The Nissan 400z is expected to make around 400bhp which will be from the highly capable V6 Twin turbo which also makes around 300 pounds of torque. 

The 400z will come in three different models with aldifferent prices. The price mark for the 400z will start at around £25,200.





Image – Dorian, D., 2021. 2022 Nissan 400Z: What We Know So Far. Car and Driver. Available at: https://www.caranddriver.com/nissan/400z [Accessed April 2, 2021].

Pfizer or AstraZeneca… Our way out of this pandemic? 

Pfizer or AstraZeneca… Our way out of this pandemic? 

by Olivia

The first vaccine in Orkney was given out on the 9th of December and Orkney has managed to speed along and give the first dose to over 34s who have wished to have the vaccine.  So which vaccine is better?

Dorothy Scott, who is retired, got her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine back in February.

“To start with I was unsure about having the vaccine as I felt that the vaccine safety had been rushed through,” she said, “however, I decided to accept the vaccine because I hoped it would give me more freedom.”

“I got my vaccine done at the hospital and the process was very efficient. There were stewards guiding you around so you knew where to enter. I did have to queue for about 45 minutes but I felt that given the circumstances this was acceptable.”

“The vaccine did not hurt at all and I got no side effects whatsoever although the spot where the needle entered my arm was uncomfortable for a few days but that was all.”

“I definitely do feel safer now after getting the first vaccine and I am hopeful that life will slowly return to normal, providing the vaccines are effective against the new variants.”

Pamela Scott, her daughter, got her first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week.

“I was slightly hesitant to start with about getting the vaccine however I felt that it was required for my role as a teacher. I wanted to get the AstraZeneca vaccine as I have allergies so I wouldn’t be able to get the Pfizer one. I felt a bit worried about getting the vaccine because every time I turned on the TV it was on the news.”

“My vaccine was given to me at The Pickaquoy Centre and everything was very quick and efficient, all the staff were excellent and it didn’t hurt at all. The day after, I felt like I had the flu. I was bone sore, had chills, a fever, awful headaches, poor appetite, felt nauseous and was absolutely exhausted. I was off work for a whole week.”

“Nine days later and the awful symptoms are just beginning to lift. At the moment I certainly don’t feel any safer and I’m not sure if I even want to have the second dose since I’ve been so ill with the first dose.”

The NHS information acknowledges that “some people may experience side effects after the vaccine” but they say that “these are usually mild and are much less serious than developing coronavirus or complications associated with coronavirus. Any side effects usually go away within a few days.”

Pamela continued, “I hope life will slowly get back to normal however I think Orkney should try to get back to normal first before the tourists come to the islands. All teenagers need to get back to school, see their friends and be able to socialise. I also want to be able to visit my granny who is 94. We’ve not seen each other for over a year!”

So clearly there is a difference between both vaccines, how each work and the different potential side effects. The AstraZeneca vaccine is now deemed safe after some countries initially stopped using it. The vaccine is 79% effective and should cause no serious side effects.

The AstraZeneca vaccine works by using a harmless adenovirus to deliver a protein into your cells. Then your cells make that protein, and your body activates an immune response to protect you from further infections. The AstraZeneca vaccine uses an adenovirus that normally causes the common cold in chimpanzees as it cannot replicate in the human body or make you ill.

The Pfizer vaccines works by introducing a molecule to cells around your body which is known as the messenger. The molecule teaches cells to make a protein from the virus that causes COVID-19. As the protein is made the body detects it and makes an immune response which creates antibodies so that it will protect you from COVID-19.

The AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored at room temp however the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at sub-zero temperatures. Both vaccines should be effective for up to four months.

So, one year on and with vaccines things seem to be going well, hopefully soon we’ll be able to get life back to normal, and see the people we haven’t seen at all in this last crazy year.


(Image from pixabay.com)

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