Aberdeen Grammar School
|Aberdeen Grammar School|
|Local authority||Aberdeen City Council|
|Rector||Alison Murison (2015–present)|
|Gender||Coeducational (all boys previously)|
|Age||11 to 18|
Keith and Dun
|Colour(s)||Blue, Red, White|
|Alumni||Aberdeen Grammar School Former Pupils Club|
|Website||Aberdeen Grammar School|
It is the oldest school in the city and one of the oldest grammar schools in the United Kingdom, with a history spanning more than 750 years. Founded around 1257, the year used in official school records, it began operating as a boys' school. On Skene Street, near the centre of the city, it was originally situated on Schoolhill, near the current site of Robert Gordon's College. It moved to its current site in 1863, and became co-educational in 1973. From 1970 to 1977, it was known as Rubislaw Academy, named after the nearby Rubislaw area of Aberdeen.
The most notable alumnus is Lord Byron, the Romantic poet and writer. A statue of him was erected in the front courtyard of the school. Other alumni include Scottish international footballer Russell Anderson, mathematician Hector Munro Macdonald, Nobel Prize winner John Macleod and the last living recipient to have been awarded the Victoria Cross during the Second World War, John Cruickshank.
The exact date of the school's founding is unknown; however, research done to mark the school's 750th anniversary led to the belief it was formed in c. 1257, which is the date that is now used for official school purposes. The earliest documented date of its existence is in the Burgh Records of 1418, when the Lord Provost and Council nominated John Homyll to replace the recently deceased Andrew of Chivas as "Master of the Schools". Originally on Schoolhill, near the site of the current Robert Gordon's College, the curriculum consisted of Latin, Greek and ancient geography.
In 1580, new pupils were reprimanded, under the penalty of £10, if they did not show good behaviour or did not listen to their Magistrates or masters. In 1612, the pupils, many of whom were related to the gentry in the country, rioted with pistols and hagbuts, and took over part of the school. The masters stopped the riot, and 21 pupils were expelled, while some were arrested.
From 1861–1863, the school moved to its current location on Skene Street. A large granite building in Scottish baronial style was constructed and officially opened on 23 October 1863. This allowed expansion of the curriculum to include English, mathematics, modern languages, art and gymnastics. Other buildings and extensions have been added to the 1863 building since it was built. These include the Bennum Building (originally a primary school) and the 1960s modern design: a west-wing science block, theatre, and a dining hall.
In 1986, the original building was devastated by a fire, destroying most of the rooms including the large library, a collection of Byron's notebooks, the trophy room and other classrooms, although the historic facade was mostly undamaged. The school was rebuilt over many years, with modern facilities, while pupils studied in temporary classrooms in the playground. These Portakabins were used by the English and Art Departments.
The school and FPs club own the 18-acre (73,000 m2) Rubislaw Playing Fields at a site about a mile away from the main school building. Shared with the former pupils' club, the location has rugby union pitches with a stand, football pitches, grass hockey pitches and an artificial hockey pitch built in 2005.
In recent years the school has been the site of a number of newsworthy events, including a protest against PETA, the painting pink of an entire temporary classroom block, and a bomb threat.
The school marked its 750th anniversary year in 2007 with a series of fund-raising events, the proceeds of which went towards buying a new school minibus. Also in 2007, work was completed on a new gymnasium, begun two years previously. The new building has a modern interior compared with the old granite. The building at the Rubislaw Playing Fields was also refurbished in 2008 in much the same style as the gym, and was extended to include four extra changing rooms and a reception area.
The motto is Bon Record. This is not to be confused with that of the City of Aberdeen—Bon Accord—which was first heard of in 1308, over 50 years after the school was founded.
Today the school is run by Aberdeen City Council in accordance with the Scottish Executive's educational guidelines for state schools. In the 2013/14 academic year, the education of each pupil at the Grammar School specifically cost £4,252. This was the lowest spending per pupil out of the local authority secondary schools.
Pupils and catchment area
About 1100 pupils attend the school each year, between the ages of about 11 to 18. The school's catchment area centres on the west end of the city, including Rosemount and Mannofield. There are four main primary schools that feed into the school, located throughout the centre and west-end of Aberdeen: Ashley Road Primary School, Gilcomstoun Primary School, Mile-End School and Skene Square Primary School . Under the Parent's Charter, children from other areas can attend the school after successful application by parents. Places using this method are limited for each year.
Colour System & Achievements
The school operates a 'Colours System', wherein pupils are awarded colours at multiple levels for representing the school in extra-curricular activities. In 2018 the school introduced 'Citizenship Colours', for 'Outstanding contribution to a group within our school community'.
There are three main colour awards given. The first, 'Bronze Colours', is issued in the third year of the school. It is represented by a red ribbon on the breast pocket of the school blazer. It requires two years of participation in the chosen activity to be eligible for this level of colours.
The second, 'Silver Colours' are awarded in fifth or sixth year, which is represented by a light blue tie (replacing the navy, red and white tie). Pupils must be participating in the activity throughout fourth and fifth year to be able to get this award.
The third, 'Gold Colours' is the final level of the colours system. It is represented by a ribbon outlining the rims of the school blazer. Pupils must demonstrate a very high level of attainment, performance and achievement to be eligible for this award, usually having to performing internationally.
The rector is the head of the school. Records show there were 26 rectors between 1418 and 1881.
|Dr John Vass Skinner||1959–1972|
|Sir James J. Robertson||1942–1959|
|Andrew Burton||? – 1940|
|Douglas G. Miller||1923|
|Henry Fife Morland Simpson||1893–1920|
|Rev Dr William Barrack||1860 to 1868|
|Sir William D. Geddes||1853-|
|Dr James Melvin||1826-1853|
Notable alumni and teachers
- Russell Anderson, Scotland international footballer, captain of Aberdeen F.C..
- James Beattie, professor of moral philosophy and logic at the University of Aberdeen.
- George Boyne, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Aberdeen.
- Lord Byron, poet, famous poems include Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and Don Juan. His statue stands in front of the school.
- William Robinson Clark, Dean of Taunton and Prebendary of Wells and Professor of Theology, mental and moral philosophy at University of Toronto, Canada.
- Zoey Clark, British athlete.
- Craig Clunas, Professor of Art History at University of Sussex, SOAS and Oxford University.
- Robin Cook, former cabinet member and Secretary of State, now deceased.
- Kyle Coetzer, Scottish Cricketer
- Alexander Cruden, theologian, author of Cruden's Bible Concordance.
- Andrew Cruickshank, Film and television actor.
- Martin Dalby, composer
- Sir James Donaldson, former Principal of University of St Andrews, Professor of Humanity at University of Aberdeen, Rector of both Stirling High School and Royal High School of Edinburgh.
- Sir David Ferrier, FRS, neurologist and psychologist.
- James Gibbs 18th century architect.
- Paul Gough, RWA Professor of Fine Arts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
- Iain Gray, Chief Executive, Technology Strategy Board and former MD Airbus UK
- David Gregory, Professor of Mathematics at University of Edinburgh, Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Oxford University. Commentator on Isaac Newton's Principia.
- Eric Grove, Professor of Naval History, University of Salford
- David William Lacy, Moderator of the General Assembly, 2005.
- James Legge, first Professor of Chinese at Oxford University.
- Eric Linklater, author.
- Alexander Veitch Lothian FRSE taught Maths and Science at the school 1881 to 1890.
- Hector Munro Macdonald, Scottish mathematician and Fellow of the Royal Society in 1901, of Edinburgh in 1905 and was awarded the Royal Society Royal Medal in 1916.
- Neil Mackie, international tenor
- I. Howard Marshall, New Testament scholar.
- David Masson, Scottish writer.
- Dr James Melvin (1795–1853), Latin scholar and Rector (1826–53)
- Very Rev James Mitchell (1830–1911) Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 1901
- John Macleod (physiologist), recipient of the 1923 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.
- John McLeod (composer)
- John Bryce McLeod Scottish mathematician and Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1974, Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1992, awarded the Royal Society of Edinburgh Keith medal and prize in 1987, London Mathematical Society Naylor Prize and Lectureship in 2011, now deceased.
- James Fraser McLuskey, Moderator of the General Assembly, 1983.
- Andrew J. Milne, Moderator of the General Assembly, 1905.
- Dallas Moir, former Scottish cricketer
- John Murray, cricketer, engineer and Royal Navy officer
- Lawrence Ogilvie, plant pathologist
- Louis Arnaud Reid (1895–1986), writer on aesthetics and foundation professor of the Philosophy of Education at the London Institute of Education.
- Professor Sir C. Duncan Rice, historian and Principal of the University of Aberdeen from 1996–2010.
- Steve Robertson of "Scotland the What?"
- Alexander Ross, writer
- Jonathan Rowson, Scotland's number 1 (2009) chess Grandmaster and former British chess champion.
- John Smith (architect)
- William Smith (architect)
- James Stirling, Senior Wrangler (1860) and Appeal court judge (1900–1906)
- David Wedderburn (teacher), wrote Vocabula in 1636.
- David West, Scottish watercolour painter.
- Ross William Wild, Lead singer for Spandau Ballet
- Andy Nisbet, Scottish mountaineer and guide
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