THREE pupils lounge in their chairs as their teacher, Mairi Mackay, runs through exercises intended to help them make the throaty, H-like sound that precedes some Gaelic words. But whereas the children are in a classroom on Islay, an island of 3,000 souls at the southern tip of the Inner Hebrides, Ms Mackay sits in her living room in Perth, in Scotland’s central belt. Your correspondent, meanwhile, looks on from the headquarters of e-Sgoil, an online school based on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.
The lesson is part of an unusual educational experiment. Schools across Britain struggle to recruit teachers, but the problem is especially acute in remote parts, and there are few places so remote as the Scottish islands. Founded in 2015 by the local council representing the Outer Hebrides, e-Sgoil (which means “e-School” in Gaelic) attempts to get round this problem by beaming teachers into classrooms via…Continue reading