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2023 looks to be an exciting year for the Barra centre of UHI Outer Hebrides as their newly-expanded team are working to deliver new opportunities for the local community. 

The team will be working closely with local people and stakeholders to deliver courses, support training needs and deliver events, UHI says.

One of the first of these events will be visits to Sgoil Bhagh a’ Chaisteil and Eoligarry Primary by the UHI Outer Hebrides Archaeology team with the Uist Virtual Archaeology Project (UVAP). This innovative digital project has created an App – Uist Unearthed. It contains Augmented Reality reconstructions of five archaeological sites along the Hebridean Way in Uist. Pupils will have the opportunity to try the Virtual Reality headsets and discover more about archaeology in the Outer Hebrides. 

Monica MacLeod from the Barra centre said: “Engaging with the local community to essential to the work we do. We want to invite people to come and speak with us, see the centre, and learn more about what we can do to support their career development. We are all highly experienced education practitioners with strong backgrounds in Further and Higher Education and we want to offer new opportunities to the Barra community.” 

UHI Outer Hebrides Principal Hannah Ritchie-Muir said: “We are committed to delivering high quality education and training opportunities for our communities across the Outer Hebrides. Welcoming new staff to our Barra Learning Centre is a very exciting time for us as Monica, Clare and Mary Anne bring a wide range of skills and expertise to support our students and the local Barra Community.”

Clare MacPherson has worked at UHI Outer Hebrides, Barra Learning Centre for several years providing holiday cover after more than 30 years employment as a teacher of Maths in Castlebay School. She recently joined the team on a permanent basis working one day per week as a Customer Service Assistant.

Mary Ann Ferguson is the most recent member of staff to join the team at the Barra learning Centre, she is joining us as a Customer Services Assistant.  Mary Ann previously worked as a Gaelic Teacher with CNES, most recently at Castlebay School.  She has more than 30 years of teaching experience. Mary Ann is an active member of the local community and is a director of Buth Bharraigh and a founder member of the local charity shop.

Monica MacLeod worked in Further Education for 14 years as a Life Science Lecturer before working for the NHS for several years upon moving to Barra.

Monica’s interests include STEM outreach, including volunteering as a STEM Ambassador for 20 years, and is planning to run a STEM festival next summer with the Castlebay school technician Elaine Stewart. She says she is very excited to join Barra Learning Centre as coordinator and make a return to education.