I recently had the pleasure to welcome John Macleod back to Gillespies. John graduated from JGHS in the 80s and has subsequently become a successful and well known journalist. (John won Scottish Journalist of the Year in 1991). I was intrigued to hear of John's experiences and particularly so the many happy memories he shared with me.
Some days after his visit John wrote to me and shared his reflections on his alma mater. (John kindly agreed for me to add this to my blog).
That was of course a time of
rapid social change in Scotland generally and less than a decade since
the sudden conversion from a girls-only Corporation grammar to a co-ed
comprehensive, which must have been very traumatic for staff at the
time. It was also then socially very divided - there was real poverty in many
parts of the catchment-area - and pastoral education, as we would call
it now, was very token: we had one period of generally toe-curling,
single-sex Social Education a week and you certainly wouldn't have
confided in any teacher about problems at home.
The change in atmosphere is palpable and the glimpse I had yesterday
into that gymnastics class (and others) showed a very different and much
healthier state of affairs. I was struck generally by the bearing and
behaviour of pupils - they seem much more poised, and quieter - and the
only jolt I got at all was the real difficulty at times in
distinguishing who was teacher and who a senior pupil - children do seem
more sophisticated now, and staff dress much less formally.
As you can see from my own (1983-84) class photograph, uniform was not
mandatory in my time, but it was officially 'encouraged' and we were
expected to wear it for such photographs and for performance in such
events as the annual Carol Concert - in this instance you can see there
was quite a bit of stage-management to disguise those who didn't have a