Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Visit from Former Pupil

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).

It was a very moving experience to be back on the premises again after so many years and I was quite emotional afterwards: I am no longer young, and I was very conscious not just of how many staff from my day are now dead but, sadly, several of my own classmates. The school yesterday struck me - despite what are now evidently 'tired' and rather inadequate buildings - as in many ways a far happier environment than it was in the early 1980s. 

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 blazer.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing these reflections, Mr MacDonald - I did enjoy my visit and if I am allowed back I look forward to bashing out some Gaelic airs on the piano at the top of Bruntsfield House - an old friend which I often illicitly enjoyed at lunchhours!