Edinburgh Academy

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The Edinburgh Academy
Edinburgh Academy frontage.jpg
Edinburgh Academy
Henderson Row


Type Public school
Private school
Motto Αἰὲν ἀριστεύειν ( Greek ) (Always Excel)
Established1824;200 years ago (1824)
Founders Henry Cockburn, Leonard Horner and John Russell
Local authority City of Edinburgh
RectorBarry Welsh
Age2to 18
Enrolment93 (Nursery)
372 (Junior School)
552 (Senior School)
Houses (Dundas)
Colour(s)Blue and White
HMIE Reports Report
School SongFloreat Academia (May the Academy flourish)
Former Pupils Edinburgh Academicals / Accies
Website www.edinburghacademy.org.uk

The Edinburgh Academy is a private day school in Edinburgh, Scotland, which was opened in 1824. The original building, on Henderson Row in the city's New Town, is now part of the Senior School. The Junior School is on Arboretum Road to the north of the city's Royal Botanic Garden.


In 2023 the school was investigated by the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry over numerous allegations by ex-pupils of historical abuse by several staff. The Academy later issued an acknowledgement and apology.


In 1822, the school's founders, Henry Cockburn and Leonard Horner, agreed that Edinburgh required a new school to promote classical learning. Edinburgh's Royal High School provided a classical education, but the founders felt that greater provision was needed for the teaching of Greek, to compete with some of England's public schools. Cockburn and Horner recruited John Russell as a co-founder and the three of them, together with other interested parties, put a proposal to the City Council for the building of a new school. The City Fathers gave their approval in 1823 and fifteen committee members were elected. [1]


Edinburgh Academy War Memorial Edinburgh Academy War Memorial - geograph.org.uk - 1405057.jpg
Edinburgh Academy War Memorial
Donaldson's building, formerly the junior school of Donaldson's College Donaldson's, Edinburgh Academy - geograph.org.uk - 1405066.jpg
Donaldson's building, formerly the junior school of Donaldson's College

The main building of the Senior School, with its Greek Doric frontage, was designed by architect William Burn. [2] The stone used was principally from the nearby Craigleith Quarry. The Foundation Stone was laid in June 1823 and the school opened for the first session in October 1824. In 1892, new classrooms were built along the western wall of the site, and in 1900, the School Library was opened, followed by the new Science Block in 1909, both along the eastern wall. At the back of the school the Dining Hall, and the Rifle Range beneath it, was opened in 1912 and after World War I, the Gymnasium was built. This was dedicated as a War Memorial to Edinburgh Academicals (former pupils) who had fallen during the hostilities of 1914 to 1918. [3]

In 1945, a new building, Denham Green House, was acquired in the Trinity area of Edinburgh. This was used for the junior department (now known as Early Years) of the Preparatory School (now known as The Edinburgh Academy Junior School). In 1960, a new building for the upper three years of the Preparatory School was completed in Inverleith (Arboretum campus). Denham Green's nursery and early years facilities were relocated to purpose built accommodation on the Preparatory school's Arboretum campus in 1987. In 1992, the Rector's residence, Academy House and in 1997, a new Games Hall were constructed on the same campus. The latter was partly funded by money from The Lottery and Sports Council and is for the use not only of pupils in both parts of the school but also of the community in the area. A new computing and music building was completed at the Junior School in 2005 and a new nursery and after school facility in 2008. [4]

At Henderson Row, the property next to the school, No 32, was acquired for administrative use in 1972 and in 1977, the Academy acquired the junior school of Donaldson's College, to the west. This allowed departments to expand and a purpose-built Music School was opened on this part of the campus in 1991. In 2005 the 1909 science block was demolished and a new science block, the James Clerk Maxwell Centre, named in honour of the 19th century scientist and former pupil, was opened by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 3 November 2006. [5]


The Edinburgh Academy was originally a day and boarding school for boys. It ceased boarding and transitioned to co-education in 2008 and is now a fully coeducational day school. [6]


In 2020 and 2021, six men accused a man later named as Iain Wares [7] of physical and sexual abuse when they were pupils in the 1970s. [8] The Scottish Crown Prosecution Service was initially reluctant to prosecute because of difficulties in seeking his extradition from South Africa, where he had moved, and his advanced age, [9] but South Africa in 2020 approved the UK's request for extradition on six charges of lewd, indecent and libidinous practices and behaviour and one of indecent assault. [10]

On 27 July 2022, broadcaster Nicky Campbell disclosed that he had witnessed and experienced sexual and violent physical abuse while a pupil at the Edinburgh Academy in the 1970s. [11] [12] [13] [14] Alex Renton, a journalist investigating child abuse in private schools, reported that ex-pupils of Edinburgh Academy had named 17 other staff members, employed between the 1950s and 1980s, as physical and sexual abusers. [15]

From 8 August 2023, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) hearings in Edinburgh, before Anne Smith, Lady Smith, took evidence from former pupils and members of staff of the Edinburgh Academy and medical experts. [16] When actor Iain Glen spoke out about his abuse in 2002, "the wrath of Morningside and Muirfield and Murrayfield rained down on his head with biblical fury because he'd broken the code, the Edinburgh omertà". [17] [18] [19] [20]

Also frequently mentioned was Hamish Dawson, deceased, whose affectionate appreciation from the Rector in September 1984 was contradicted by testimony from many reporting having suffered at his hands. [21] [14] [22] [7] On 30 August 2023, the school issued an apology for both the "brutal and unrestrained" historical abuse and its consequences for "grown men deeply damaged as children". [23]

On 30 November 2023, BBC1 broadcast a Panorama programme 'My Teacher the Abuser: Fighting for Justice', [24] devoted to the history of abuse at the Edinburgh Academy and Fettes College and concentrating on the allegations against Iain Wares and the efforts to extradite him from South Africa. [25] [26] On 12 December 2023, Police Scotland announced that five former teaching staff aged between 69 and 90 had been arrested for questioning regarding alleged abuse incidents between 1968 and 1992, with one further individual to be referred to the authorities. [27] [28]

On 11 March 2024 at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, an examination of facts hearing regarding John Brownlee commenced as, at 89 and demented, he was deemed unfit to stand trial. Nicky Campbell described repeated physical mistreatment. Other pupils had reported similar cases. [29]

On 27 March, after over two weeks' testimony from 42 former pupils, the Sheriff ruled that Brownlee had repeatedly committed a number of violent assaults against children aged between eight and 11 years, spanning 31 charges as well as ‘cruel and unnatural acts’ at the school. [30] A spokesman from the Edinburgh Academy Survivors group afterwards described Brownlee as a "violent monster" who had caused "a lifetime of damage to everyone concerned". [31] The evidence was also reported to have exposed a wider culture of complicity at the school. [32] [33] [34]

Notable alumni

Former pupils of the Edinburgh Academy are known as Academicals, or Accies, a name shared with the associated rugby club. [35]

Famous alumni of the school include Robert Louis Stevenson, James Clerk Maxwell, Nicky Campbell, Magnus Magnusson, Baron Falconer of Thoroton, Mike Blair, and Iain Glen. It has also produced one Nobel Prize winner (J. Michael Kosterlitz), numerous political and legal figures, several rugby internationals and nine recipients of the Victoria Cross; the highest number of any school in Scotland. According to the Sutton Trust, the school is placed second in Scotland and joint 36th in the UK for the number of the nation's leading people produced. [36]


Rectors of The Edinburgh Academy since it was founded in 1824: [3]

Other notable staff

See also

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  1. Report by the Committee of Contributors to the Edinburgh Academy. J. and C. Muirhead. 1 April 1823. p. 2.
  2. Cosh, Mary (2003). Edinburgh:The Golden Age. John Donald. p. 659. ISBN   978-1-78027-258-0.
  3. 1 2 "History of the School". Edinburgh Academy. 2007. Archived from the original on 9 November 2007.
  4. "Edinburgh Academy, New Nursery And After School Facility". Richard Murphy Architects. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  5. "opening of James Clerk Maxwell Centre". Edinburgh Academy. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 20 November 2006.
  6. "Edinburgh Academy to stop taking boarders in £5m revamp". Herald Scotland. 29 March 2007.
  7. 1 2 3 Renton, Alex (24 November 2023). "'Jimmy Savile mark II': why was an alleged child abuser able to move from school to school?". The Guardian.
  8. Macaskill, Mark (9 May 2021). "More men accuse ex-Fettes teacher of historical abuse" . The Sunday Times. London.
  9. McKenzie, Jamie (1 May 2021). "Crown decision not to extradite alleged Fettes abuser branded 'weak' by politicians as South African lawyers question it". Edinburgh Evening News.
  10. Cook, James; Schoonbee, Karen (6 August 2022). "Nicky Campbell teacher admits schoolboy abuse in court documents". BBC News.
  11. "Nicky Campbell: School abuse still haunts me". BBC News. 27 July 2022. Retrieved 27 July 2022.
  12. Different with Nicky Campbell: Edgar. BBC Sounds (Audio, 55'). 27 July 2022.
  13. Brocklehurst, Steven (22 February 2023). "'I can't bear his blood in me' - sex abuser's daughter". BBC News Scotland.
  14. 1 2 3 Billen, Andrew (24 November 2023). "Nicky Campbell: 'Abusive teacher at my school was up there with Savile'" . The Times.
  15. "Boys 'abused by 17 staff at elite school' attended by Nicky Campbell". 4 August 2022. Retrieved 29 August 2022.
  16. "Abuse survivors condemn Edinburgh Academy ahead of inquiry". BBC. 8 August 2023. Retrieved 27 August 2023.
  17. 1 2 3 Brooks, Libby (30 August 2023). "'The injustice hurts you more': survivors tell of abuse at Edinburgh academy". The Guardian.
  18. 1 2 Horne, Marc (16 August 2023). "Boy, 6, 'abused with hose for wetting bed at Edinburgh Academy'" . The Times.
  19. Mega, Marcello (21 August 2023). "Scots school abuse survivor praises Nicky Campbell for bringing together 'band of brothers'". Daily Record. Retrieved 27 August 2023.
  20. Brooks, Libby (22 August 2023). "Nicky Campbell 'haunted' by abuse at Edinburgh Academy, inquiry hears". Guardian. Retrieved 27 August 2023.
  21. "Staff: several departures; Mr Hamish Dawson's retirement (section)". The Edinburgh Academy Chronicle. 91 (3): 131. September 1984.
  22. 1 2 O'Mahony, Marsha (4 August 2022). "Child abuser worked as Father Christmas in Gloucestershire stores, claims broadcaster Nicky Campbell" . Gloucestershire Live.
  23. "Edinburgh Academy apologises for 'brutal' historical abuse". BBC. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  24. 1 2 "My Teacher the Abuser: Fighting for Justice". BBC. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  25. Midgley, Carol (30 November 2023). "My Teacher the Abuser review — dealing with the slow-acting poison of abuse". The Times.
  26. Singh, Anita (30 November 2023). "My Teacher the Abuser: Fighting for Justice, review: courageous but chilling allegations of heinous abuse". The Telegraph.
  27. 1 2 Horne, Mark (12 December 2023). "Five men charged over alleged historical abuse at Edinburgh Academy". The Times.
  28. Brooks, Libby (12 December 2023). "Five men charged over alleged abuse of children at Edinburgh Academy". The Guardian.
  29. Watson, Calum; Delaney, James (13 March 2024). "BBC presenter Nicky Campbell tells of abuse by 'sadist' teacher". BBC News.
  30. Edinburgh teacher found to have persecuted young boys. COPFS. 27 March 2024.
  31. "Teacher abused boys at Nicky Campbell's school". BBC News Scotland. 27 March 2024.
  32. 1 2 Carrell, Severin (27 March 2024). "Beatings, humiliation and a loss of self-worth: how Edinburgh Academy victims were scarred". The Guardian.
  33. Carrell, Severin (27 March 2024). "'Sadistic' Edinburgh teacher found to have assaulted pupils for 20 years". The Guardian.
  34. Lawrie, Alexander (27 March 2024). "Edinburgh Academy teacher assaulted children with a bat and snooker cue in sickening reign of terror". Daily Record.
  35. Maxwell, Claire; Aggleton, Peter (2015). Elite Education International Perspectives. Taylor and Francis. p. 34. ISBN   978-1317628811.
  36. "The Educational Backgrounds of the Nation's Leading People" (PDF). Sutton Trust. November 2012. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 August 2016.
  37. 1 2 Dalyell, Tam (14 June 2015). "William Prosser: Lawyer and administrator who bestrode both the legal world and the artistic scene of his native Edinburgh". Independent. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  38. "Rector's Welcome". Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  39. "Meet our Leadership Team". The Edinburgh Academy. Retrieved 6 August 2022.
  40. "D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson". Oxford Reference. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  41. "Obituary: Arthur John Pressland" (PDF). St John's College, Cambridge. p. 196. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  42. Smeaton, W. A. (1984). "Obituary: William Persehouse Delisle Wightman: 4 June 1899-15 January 1983". The British Journal for the History of Science. 17 (2): 214–216. doi: 10.1017/S000708740002094X . JSTOR   4026554.
  43. "Jack Mendl". The Scotsman. 1 November 2001. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  44. Brooks, Libby (30 November 2023). "Former Edinburgh Academy teacher accused of torture will not stand trial". The Guardian.

Further reading

55°57′39″N3°12′16″W / 55.9608°N 3.2045°W / 55.9608; -3.2045