Aberdeen Grammar School
Coordinates: 57°08′49″N 2°06′47″W / 57.147°N 2.113°W
|Local authority||Aberdeen City Council|
Keith and Dun
Blue, red and white|
|Publication||Various names; annual|
Aberdeen Grammar School, known to students as the Grammar, is a state secondary school in Aberdeen, Scotland. It is one of twelve secondary schools run by the Aberdeen City Council educational department. 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, and Nobel Prize winner John James Rickard Macleod.
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: west-wing science block, theatre and the dining hall. Originally a fee-paying boys' school it became a council grammar school and then a comprehensive academy in 1970. It became co-educational in 1973.
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 façade 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 Astroturf 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 1998–99 academic year, the education of each pupil at the Grammar School specifically cost £2,690. Aberdeen City Council spent an average of £5,834 per secondary school pupil as a whole in its authority during the 2005–2006 session.
In the session 2006–2007, 43% of fifth- and sixth-year pupils received a qualification equivalent of five Highers or more—a 3% increase on the previous year. It is now ranked 12th equal in Scotland for these qualifications. Furthermore, 64% of fourth-years gained a Standard Grade at Credit level—an increase of 4%. The school is currently ranked 10th in this field. In an annual survey run by the British broadsheet newspaper The Times, Aberdeen Grammar was rated the 19th best Scottish state secondary school in 2005 based on exam results, rising to 16th in 2006 and, most recently, 12th in 2007.
Pupils and catchment area
About 1100 pupuils 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 five 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, Skene Square Primary School and St. Joseph's Primary School (a Roman Catholic faith 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.
Houses and extra-curricular activities
When starting school pupils are allocated into one of the three houses in the school. These three houses are Byron, Keith and Dun and Melvin.
The school has a particular emphasis on boys' rugby union and girls' hockey. The former pupils club provide extra coaching on some games afternoons and with whom many pupils continue to play for once they leave school. The school has several teams, including football, hockey and rugby sides, and in basketball the school has a strong team linked to the former pupils Greywolves team. There is also representation in golf, swimming, badminton, tennis and netball.
The school has a large and active Former Pupils' Club, which has members all over the world and a clubhouse at Queens Road opposite the extensive Rubislaw Playing Fields. The club is home to the largest selection of sports clubs in Aberdeen. These include the Scottish Premier Division rugby team and the Aberdeen GSFP RFC, who play at Rubislaw Playing Fields.
The rector is the head of the school. Records show there were 26 rectors between 1418 and 1881.
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.
- 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.
- 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.33
- Kat Flint, singer-songwriter.
- 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.
- 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
- David Masson, Scottish writer.
- John McLeod (composer)
- J. 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.
- Ronnie McLeod (trumpeter and bandleader)
- James Fraser McLuskey, Moderator of the General Assembly, 1983.
- Andrew J. Milne, Moderator of the General Assembly, 1905.
- Dr James Melvin (1795-1853), Latin scholar and Rector (1826-53)
- Dallas Moir, former Scottish Cricketer.
- Lawrence Ogilvie, plant pathologist
- Steve Robertson of "Scotland the What?"
- Louis Arnaud Reid (1895-1986), writer on aesthetics and foundation professor of the Philosophy of Education at the London Institute of Education.
- 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)
- Kevin Stirling (author and historian)
- David Wedderburn (teacher), wrote Vocabula in 1636.
- David West, Scottish watercolour painter.
- Professor Sir C. Duncan Rice, historian and Principal of the University of Aberdeen from 1996-2010.
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- Grammar School Webpage
- Aberdeen Grammar School's page on Parentzone
- 2006 Prospectus (download). Details exam results, pupil and staff numbers, departments and other statistics.
- HM School Inspectors' Report