Glenrothes High School

50th Anniversary of GHS

Glenrothes High School has done and seen great things in its 50 year history – “from little acorns, mighty oaks grow”.

The story of Glenrothes High School begins with the new town’s secondary education system which started with the opening of Auchmuty High School in 1957, as a Junior High School. Senior Secondary education, for the young people of Glenrothes, was provided by Buckhaven, Kirkcaldy and Bell Baxter High Schools for those pupils who passed the 11 plus qualifying exam.

In 1962, another Junior Secondary opened its doors at Glenwood High School. At the same time of Glenwood’s opening – Glenrothes High School was being planned. Glenrothes in the 1960s was a prosperous town, with an aspirational population and the Beatles at their height of fame.

Mr John McBride was the first Head Teacher of Glenwood High School and became the first Rector of Glenrothes High School in 1966.  He is said to have recalled with pride the opening of the new school and having persuaded staff to attend on a Saturday in preparation.

Mr R.S Lawrie designed the new build at a cost of £530,000 to the taxpayers. The design was hailed as magnificent with its winged shape and impressive mosaic of Celtic knots decorating the exterior of the assembly hall. There were green playing fields and views of the Lomond hills.

 On Monday 18th April 1966 – the school opened its doors to 235 pupils), with a visit from Leader of the Opposition, Edward Heath on the 23rd of September. Pupils of the new Glenrothes High School would share the same tie, school badge and staff as Glenwood in the beginning.

Glenrothes High School would not be officially declared open, until Monday 14th November 1966 by Dr D. M. McIntosh – former Director of Education for Fife Council and laterally Principal of Moray House School of Education at Edinburgh University. There were numerous invited guests and dignatories including all of the school’s cleaners who had ensured the school opened on time, having cleared up the debris left from the builders. Glenrothes High School was a Senior Secondary, preparing the young people of Glenrothes for university and beyond. However, there was a wider debate about the school becoming fully comprehensive.

Mr John McBride remained Rector of Glenrothes High School from 1966-1976 – his background was in Classics and he was credited for the great start and high aspirations of Glenrothes High School. Pupils referred to Mr McBride as “The Dome” because of his lack of hair. He was admired and respected by pupils, parents and staff alike. Many of the Glenwood staff followed McBride to the new school including: His Deputes - Ken Robertson (former head of Physics), the late Samuel Stevenson (former head of English) and in the late 1960s - Mrs Margaret Inglis (known as the Lady Supervisor). Mr Charlie Wallace – joined GHS from the outset as Head of Latin and Greek, then as Assistant Rector from 1971-1988. He was known as Basher – for wielding the belt - yet conversely was known to be a gentle man.

From 1966 – 1968 there were only 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th year pupils – with the first cohort sitting Highers. 1st & 2nd years were still attending Junior Secondary’s.

John Coghlan left Glenrothes High School to study Classics at St Andrews University in 1967. In 1971, he was the first Glenrothes High School pupil to graduate from St Andrews University. Today we have strong links with St Andrews University through First Chances and the Reach programme.

In August 1968, Glenrothes High School had its first intake of 1st year pupils, becoming a fully comprehensive secondary school in 1970.

In 1973 the new school badge was created in efforts to encapsulate what Glenrothes High School stood for. The wavy line at the top is the River Leven, to reference where the school is. The six vertical red lines represent 6 years of secondary education. The symbol in the top right (which looks like 2H) is 2 for the second stage of education, with an H like a rugby post to symbolise sport and physical education. The symbol at the bottom left is a triangle which is the helmet of the Greek Goddess Athene, the goddess of wisdom and underneath a cross to represent moral education.

Mr McBride retired aged 60 on the 31st March 1976. Robert McKay was appointed the 2nd Rector of Glenrothes High School in Easter of 1976. Pupils referred to Mr McKay as EMOD (DOME backwards – because their new rector had hair). He served for 17 years until 1993 and was, at that time, Fife’s longest serving Rector. At this time, Caskieberran was added to the existing associated primary schools of South Parks and Rimbleton with the eventual development of newly planned Pitcoudie primary in the North of Glenrothes.

Mr Julian Proctor – Head of History from the school’s opening - would be replaced by Mr John Brown (who became Senior Depute at Kirkland High School several years later). Charlie Wallace would also appoint the renowned Mr David Potter to the Latin and Classics department. Classics has recently been resurrected onto the GHS school curriculum thanks to Jo Webster.

The school continued to produce excellent results in academic attainment and examination results. In 1982 – corporal punishment was abolished and the Lochgelly tawse with it. The school had a history of success on the football field with Mr Bob Docherty’s guidance. The 1980s saw girls wear trousers to school and computing science introduced for the first time.

Former pupils of the 1980s include - William Allan, who left Glenrothes High School in 1988 and is currently McConnell Laing Fellow and Tutor in Greek and Latin Languages and Literature at University College, University of Oxford. David Adgar PhD – Professor of Linguistics at Queen Mary College – University of London and Bruce Winton who went on to become Director of Food & Beverages with Marriott International to name a few. Pupils leaving Glenrothes High School have continued to be successful in every walk of life.

1990s – 21st Century
Mr Allister Hendrie was the third Rector of Glenrothes high School from 1993 – 2002. Throughout the 1990s the school gained a good reputation for debating – reaching the final of The Courier debating competition at the University of St Andrews. During this time (1995) the school was devastated by the death of Mr Dave Garland who started at Glenwood in 1962 as a PE teacher and moved on to become a Guidance teacher at Glenrothes High from 1972 till his retirement in 1994. He was one of the school’s great characters and is remembered by the annual Fife school’s Dave Garland Memorial – an inter schools sporting event held at Glenrothes High School in his memory. The 1990s saw the loss of one of brightest pupils too in Brigid Patey a young cellist who graduated from the Royal Conservatoire. 

Phil Black took GHS into the 21st century when he became the 4th Rector of Glenrothes High School in 2002 until 2007 when he was appointed Rector of Bell Baxter High School in Cupar, a post he holds to this day.

Mr Alan Barrowman the fifth Rector 2007-2011, saw another young pupil - Hayley Anne Bell -tragically pass away in 2009.  Ms Ruth McFarlane was appointed the sixth Rector in 2011-2014. She moved on to become the now Rector of Queen Anne High School in Dunfermline. I was fortunate to be appointed in 2014 as the 7th Rector. 

Glenrothes High School continues to build on its proud history and successes. Our school’s attendance is at its best in many years, lowest exclusion rates and has seen marked improvement in many senior school results. We are a Rights Respecting Secondary School, reflected in the very positive relationships across our community. Our 2020 vision of “Aspiring to excellence and improving life chances for all” is a testament to the commitment of our staff, pupils, parents/ carers and partners. We aims to be a caring community, celebrating the success of learners and aspiring to provide excellent learning experiences for all of our young people. We aspire to the best possible outcome for every young person who leaves Glenrothes High School in pursuit of their future goals.

- Aristotle

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.

Here’s to our 50th and to the next half century ahead – let us enjoy the hearts and minds of this great school together.

Avril McNeill (7th Rector of Glenrothes High School).