James Gillespie's High School

James Gillespie's High School
Mottoes Fidelis Et Fortis
(Latin: Faithful and Brave)
Established 1803
Type State school
Headteacher Donald J Macdonald
Founder James Gillespie
Location Lauderdale Street
Local authority Edinburgh City
Staff FTE 86.5 (2016)[1]
Students 1210 (2016)
Gender Mixed
Ages 11–18
Website jamesgillespies.co.uk

James Gillespie's High School is a state-funded secondary school, in Marchmont, Edinburgh. It is a comprehensive high school, educating pupils between the ages of 11 and 18, in the center of Edinburgh. Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace are within the catchment area of James Gillespie's High School.[2]

The school uses the Scottish Gaelic curriculum.


In 1803, as a result of the legacy of James Gillespie, an Edinburgh tobacco merchant, James Gillespie's High School was opened in Bruntsfield place. There were 65 students and one master,it was administered by the Merchant Company of Edinburgh. In 1870, the school moved into a larger building on the south side of what is now Gillespie Crescent. The school's number of students would later exceed 1,000 and include girls.

In 1908, the Edinburgh School Board took responsibility for this school from the Merchant Company of Edinburgh Education Board.

In 1914, the school moved into the original Boroughmuir School building on Bruntsfield Links, until recently used by Boroughmuir High School as an annex. This was the school attended by the novelist Muriel Spark who based the main character in her 1961 novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie on one of her teachers, Christina Kay.

In 1935, Edinburgh Corporation acquired Bruntsfield House and its grounds from the Warrender family.[3]

The building of the school in Lauderdale Street commenced in 1964 and was completed in 1966. The school became a secondary school for 800 girls. This added three teaching blocks, a separate library, swimming pool and gymnasium to the original Bruntsfield House building.

In 1973, the school became a co-educational comprehensive school, taking in boys and girls.[4]

In 1978, ownership of the school was taken over by Edinburgh District council, the school uniform became optional. At this time the school also started to use an annex at 7 Gillespie Street to cope with a rising intake.

In 1989, the school moved to one site on the completion of an extensive building and modernization program.[4] Formerly, the High School divided the student population into four 'houses' - Warrender, Roslin, Spylaw, and Gilmore. The houses would compete in intramural sports events, etc. The house system lasted into the early 1980s. Since then the buildings of the High School campus adopted the names of the houses with the addition of a new name, Bruntsfield. Each of the house (now building) names reflects a connection to the name of a locality in, or a historic family from, south Edinburgh.

In 2005, the school adopted 3 new 'social communities' (like the house system but without competitions, only for arranging social guidance) based on James Clerk Maxwell (Maxwell) Henry Raeburn (Raeburn) and Aung San Suu Kyi (Kyi.)[5]

In 2007, improvements were made to the fabric of the school's buildings after a state inspection found significant deficiencies in several of the 1966 structures. There was a campaign to build a new school.[6] Following consultation with parents, students, staff, and the wider community, building of a new school began on the existing site in December 2013. The estimated completion date was summer 2016.[7]

In July 2013, work started to replace all the school buildings apart from Bruntsfield House which is a listed building.

In January 2015 Tatler magazine named James Gillespie's High School as the best State school in Scotland. In November 2016, the Times named Gillespie's as State School of the Year.

The campus was completed in August 2016 and was officially opened by John Swinney (Deputy First Minister) on Wednesday 26 October 2016. It now comprises 4 buildings: Bruntsfield House; The Malala teaching block; The Muriel Spark Performing Arts building and the Eric Liddell Sports building.



  1. Scottish Schools Online: JGHS. Retrieved 5 May 2008
  2. JGHS Catchment - Edinburgh Council. Retrieved 5 May 2008
  3. "Edinburgh, 57 Lauderdale Street, Bruntisfield House". Canmore. Retrieved 2015-10-27.
  4. 1 2 "Our School". Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  5. "Message from the Head Teacher - August 2005" (PDF).
  6. Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 5 May 2008
  7. "BBC News - Work starts on new James Gillespie's High School in Edinburgh". BBC Online. 11 December 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  8. http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-35934024

External links

Coordinates: 55°56′12.20″N 3°12′1.62″W / 55.9367222°N 3.2004500°W / 55.9367222; -3.2004500

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