With just four pupils on its register, the school has as many ducks as children.

But now one of the smallest schools in Scotland has a new head teacher. Tim Ross has taken up the post at Papa Westray Community School in Orkney. Previously at Glaitness Primary School in the islands, working so remotely is nothing new for Mr Ross. He has even taught in the Falklands.

Mr Ross explained: “A seed was sown during a placement at the school in Shapinsay during my teacher training. It gave me a real interest in working at one of Orkney’s ‘peedie’ (small) schools.

“I am looking forward to getting to know the children, staff and parents in Papay – and to becoming a part of the wider community.”

Papa Westray, or Papay, home to just over 80 residents, is one of the northernmost Orkney islands.

The school was founded in 1877 with an extension in 2002 to expand the school and accommodate a nursery. Until recently it had three alpacas among its croft animals – but now has just four ducks, the same number of pupils.

It is reachable by boat, two hours from Kirkwall, or 30 minutes from Westray, or a 20-minute flight from Kirkwall.

“This year we have four children in school, with ages ranging from 6 to 11. There are about 35 houses on our island,” the school’s website said.

“We have a playground, a garden and a greenhouse where we grow flowers and vegetables, and we also have a growing croft. There is also a play park and a football field.”

The school, which also has a nursery, caters for children as young as two years old until they finish primary school aged 12.

Then they go to secondary school on the neighbouring Westray.

Papa Westray’s previous long-serving head was Verity Branscombe, whose post has been vacant since Christmas.

Mr Ross is still to move to the island to take up his post.

Educated at Stromness Academy on Orkney, Mr Ross was later awarded a PhD in physics after five years of research and study at the University of Richmond, Virginia, in the United States.

He returned to the county for teacher training at Orkney College UHI. After qualifying and a probationary period at Glaitness, Mr Ross spent two years as a teacher in Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands.

He has been teaching P6 and P7 pupils at Glaitness. Gwenda Shearer, chair of Orkney Islands Council’s Education, Leisure and Housing Committee, said: “I welcome Tim’s appointment following a rigorous, nationwide recruitment process.

“Running a school at the heart of the local community is an exciting opportunity and I wish Tim well in his new role in Papay.”

As well as being home to the smallest school in the area, the island is also famous for the shortest flight in the world to its neighbour Westray.

The short hop usually takes just two minutes – including taxiing – to complete the 1.7-mile flight, which is about the same length as the runway at Edinburgh Airport.

The lifeline service is operated under a Public Services Obligation (PSO) contract awarded by the local council. In the summer months tourism is important to the island economy.

With only one shop and post office the islanders are dependent on the twice weekly ferry throughout the year and during the summer months a daily ferry to Westray.

The island is also well served by Loganair flights. In 2017, a Shetland island advertised for a head teacher for its single-pupil school, paying £49,133 a year.

Foula Primary is on Foula, one of the UK’s remote inhabited islands, about 20 miles west of the Shetland mainland.

It has a population of just 32 and is often described as the edge of the world.

The post attracted applications from as far afield as South Africa and Azerbaijan.

And in 2018 the island of Muck turned to social media in the hope of finding a new teacher for its 10 pupils. Muck, at two miles long and a mile wide, is the smallest of the Small Isles, south of Skye in the Inner Hebrides.

It is reached by ferry from Mallaig, which takes an hour and 40 minutes, but is regularly cut off from the mainland during bad weather.