High School of Dundee

Last updated

The High School of Dundee
High School of Dundee Arms.jpg
School coat of arms, granted 21 April 1938 [1]
High School of Dundee
Euclid Crescent


Coordinates 56°27′46″N2°58′23″W / 56.4628°N 2.9730°W / 56.4628; -2.9730 Coordinates: 56°27′46″N2°58′23″W / 56.4628°N 2.9730°W / 56.4628; -2.9730
Type Independent day school
MottoPrestante Domino
"With God As Our Guide"
Established1239;783 years ago (1239)
FoundersThe Abbot and Monks of Lindores Abbey
Local authorityDundee
Chairman of DirectorsIain Bett
Rector Lise Hudson
Staff106 teaching/53 non-teaching
Age3to 18
Enrolment1000 (Approx)
  •   Airlie
  •   Aystree
  •   Lindores
  •   Wallace
Colour(s)Navy and gold   
School song Floreat Schola Taodunensis
Website https://www.highschoolofdundee.org.uk

The High School of Dundee is an independent, co-educational, day school in Dundee, Scotland which provides nursery, primary and secondary education to just over one thousand pupils. Its foundation has been dated to 1239, and it is the only private school in Dundee.


The school's Rector is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

The school has been registered as a charity in Scotland since July 1897. [2]


The Grammar School

The School has origins in the Grammar School of Dundee founded by the abbot and monks of Lindores Abbey after they were granted a charter by Gregory, Bishop of Brechin, in the early 1220s to "plant schools wherever they please in the burgh". Their rights were confirmed by a Papal Bull conferred by Pope Gregory IX on 14 February 1239. It is from this Bull that the School's Latin motto "Prestante Domino", translated as "Under the Leadership of God", is taken.

Little information survives about the early grammar school: it would have taught a Latin curriculum to boys from Dundee and the surrounding area. In 1434, the teaching methods of the Master, Gilbert Knight, were challenged by John, Bishop of Brechin, who conferred Laurence Lownan as the new Master in Knight's place.

Dundee was a hotbed of the Reformation, and St Mary's Church had, according to John Knox, the first truly reformed congregation in Scotland. The school itself was the earliest reformed school in the country, having adopted the new religion in 1554 under the master, Thomas Makgibbon, with the assistance of the (by-now Protestant) Dundee Town Council. However, John, the Abbot of Lindores stepped in to take control of the school which his predecessors had founded, replacing Makgibbon nominally with the Vicar of St. Mary's, John Rolland, who was given the power to appoint substitutes; this he did, his substitutes opening schools in opposition to the Grammar School, poaching its pupils. In the ensuing furore the Town Council, which approved of Makgibbon's methods, intervened to prevent rival schools.

Among other early masters was John Fethy, who left Scotland for Wittenberg from Dundee, having come into contact with Lutheran influences. He returned to Scotland around 1532 "the first organist that ever brought to Scotland the curious new fingering", that is, playing the organ with five fingers.

Early scholars included Hector Boece, historian and first Principal of the University of Aberdeen; William Wallace; and James, John and Robert Wedderburn, authors of The Gude and Godlie Ballatis , one of the most important literary works of the Scottish Reformation.

After the Reformation, the Grammar School came under the auspices of Dundee Town Council. Greek was added to the curriculum shortly after 1562, under the Master Alexander Hepburn, who would author Grammaticae Artis Rudimenta Breviter et Dilucide Explicata, a Latin primer, in Dundee, and become bishop of Ross in 1574. Mary, Queen of Scots, also made an annual grant to the school in 1563, from the revenues of the church.

The school moved into its first permanent home in 1589, a building in St Clement's Lane demolished to make way for the City Square in the 1930s. Among the masters here were Andrew Duncan, an academic and Presbyterian minister, and David Lindsay, later Bishop of Edinburgh, who crowned Charles I at Holyrood. Pupils were still expected to speak only Latin – to ensure which, their schoolmates were to act as "clandestine captors". Boys entered at the age of eight, and stayed for seven years (two years longer than in other Scottish schools: in 1773, this was reduced to the customary five) at which point the boy could proceed to university. A boy had probably only two teachers in all this time: each of the three assistants, known as doctors, taught one class for three years, after which the Rector would teach for two years.

The English School and Dundee Academy

The English School was founded by the burgh council in 1702, and was the successor to the pre-Reformation “Song School”: it acted as a sort of elementary school for both sexes. It stood in School Wynd, by the city churches, near to the present site of the Mercat Cross. The Grammar School shared a building with it from 1789, though the two remained separate.

In 1785, Dundee Academy was opened in the Nethergate, in a hospital building built by the Trinitarian Friars before the Reformation; today it is the site of St Andrews Roman Catholic Cathedral. This new school, also founded by the Council, was “to instruct young gentlemen in mathematical learning, and the several branches of the science with which it is connected.” Its first rector, James Weir, described as “a gentleman of considerable abilities, but rather a projector,” took great interest in the problem of perpetual motion. The school closed down altogether in 1795 after its second master, James Ivory, had gone to be a professor at the Royal Military College. The academy re-opened in 1801, under Thomas Duncan, a brilliant mathematician: but after his appointment to the Regius Chair of Mathematics at the University of St Andrews in 1820 the school suffered. The author Robert Mudie also taught at the Academy from 1808 to 1821.

Dundee Public Seminaries

For some years it had become apparent that the educational needs of the rapidly expanding burgh were inadequately met by the three burgh schools. In April 1829, a public meeting was held to consider the situation, where it was proposed to combine the schools within one building. Dundee Town Council had also been reviewing the position: following deliberations, it was decided that “the Magistrates and Town Council and all classes of the community shall unite in joint efforts for enlarging and improving the means of education in Dundee”. The schools hitherto under the patronage of the Council were to be reconstituted and handed over to a new body of directors, of whom ten were chosen by the Council, and ten by the subscribers to the new buildings. Thus, the three schools were united in 1829 to form the Dundee Public Seminaries, and in 1832-4 the present school, to the design of Edinburgh architect George Angus, was built, a neo-classical building designed as part of the civic improvements in Dundee.

The school was opened on 1 October 1834. The total cost of the building, including the playground and enclosure (not completed until 1837) was £10,000, the greater portion of which was raised by public subscription. Though it had one building and one management, the three schools remained more or less distinct; conflicting claims for precedence led to no rector being appointed. The centre was assigned to the Academy, the west wing to the Grammar School, and the east wing to the English School; the eight or nine headmasters acted independently, but presided in rotation over a Censor's Court, which dealt with matters of common concern. To this day, the heads of individual departments within the School are known as Headmasters, a unique reminder of this arrangement. From 1840, one of the directors was to exercise general supervision over the school as governor, or superintending director, with powers to "reform all abuses and irregularities".

The High School of Dundee

In 1859, a Royal Charter granted by Queen Victoria changed the name of the school to The High School of Dundee, and protected the rights of the Subscribers. In 1877, a new curriculum was introduced, and an inclusive fee charged: prior to this, pupils had attended such classes as they chose. The independent future of the school was threatened by the Education (Scotland) Act 1872, which made education compulsory and took over the running of parish schools from the Church of Scotland. Burgh as well as parish schools now came under school boards run by local committees, and similarly ancient schools in Edinburgh and Glasgow were taken over by their respective town councils. The Subscribers to the High School objected to this. The situation was worsened by a similar Act in 1878, and legal action looked inevitable, until an alumnus, William Harris, offered, in February 1881, to donate £30,000 for the purposes of higher education in Dundee on condition that the board give up all claim to the school. This agreement was incorporated in an Act of Parliament, the William Harris Endowment and Dundee Education Act, 1882. This act led to the appointment of a single rector of the High School of Dundee, and the foundation of Harris Academy. Thanks to Margaret Harris, who waived her right to a life-rent of her brother's estate, a girls’ school was built across Euclid Crescent in two stages between 1886 and 1890. A further Act was passed in 1922, and the school's current constitution is embodied in ‘The High School of Dundee Scheme, 1987’, sanctioned by an Order of the Court of Session made under the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, in May 1992.

The school church is Dundee Parish Church (St Mary's), continuing a tradition that has existed since its foundation in the thirteenth century, and services and concerts are regularly held in the church.

The school has a total of 1040 pupils in prep-school and the senior school. Fees for the 2021–2022 session range from £9 618.00 to £13 650.00 per annum, depending on the year of study. [3] The High School of Dundee was among the first Scottish charities investigated by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator for the public benefit derived from their tax-exempt status, and was the first independent school in the United Kingdom judged to have demonstrated its charitable aims and "local and national benefit". The High School was voted Scottish Independent Secondary School of the Year 2008 by The Times. [4]

Buildings and grounds

The Boys School of 1834 Dundee High School.jpg
The Boys School of 1834

The High School of Dundee is situated in seven buildings in the city centre:

There are also two main playing grounds, Dalnacraig and Mayfield, approximately one mile from the school, at which sports such as hockey, tennis, rugby, football, cricket, and athletics are played. Mayfield has undergone massive investment in recent years with new sports facilities, and is the home of Dundee High School Former Pupils’ RFC; it is also let out to other groups. The school holds an annual sports day at the Mayfield playing grounds in June where the four school houses compete against each other throughout the day.


The school has four houses to which pupils are assigned randomly, or depending on their family history in the school. The four houses are Airlie, Aystree (after the house of a Benefactor of the School), Lindores (originally "School"), and Wallace (after William Wallace). Junior School get the opportunity to gain house points during class and the senior school gain house-points through competitions such as inter-house debating, and through the results collected from sports day. At the end of every session, the points are added together, and the house plate is awarded to the winning house.

Staff Bullying

In 2019 the school was required to pay £60,000 as a result of unfairly dismissing the principal teacher of religious, moral and philosophical studies. The court found that the rector's treatment of the teacher was “extremely threatening and unpleasant”. [5] [6] Judge Ian McFatridge said that evidence from Dr Halliday and Lise Hudson, his deputy and named successor, was not credible or reliable: the school did not contest the ruling. [7]

Notable alumni

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dundee</span> City and council area in Scotland

Dundee is Scotland's fourth-largest city and the 51st-most-populous built-up area in the United Kingdom. The mid-year population estimate for 2016 was 148,210, giving Dundee a population density of 2,478/km2 or 6,420/sq mi, the second-highest in Scotland. It lies within the eastern central Lowlands on the north bank of the Firth of Tay, which feeds into the North Sea. Under the name of Dundee City, it forms one of the 32 council areas used for local government in Scotland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Forfar</span> County town and administrative centre in Scotland

Forfar is the county town of Angus, Scotland and the administrative centre for Angus Council, with a new multi-million pound office complex located on the outskirts of the town. As of 2021, the town has a population of 16,280.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cambuslang</span> Scottish locality south of Glasgow

Cambuslang is a town on the south-eastern outskirts of Greater Glasgow, Scotland. With approximately 30,000 residents, it is the 27th largest town in Scotland by population, although, never having had a town hall, it may also be considered the largest village in Scotland. It is within the local authority area of South Lanarkshire and directly borders the town of Rutherglen to the west. Historically, it was a large civil parish incorporating the nearby hamlets of Newton, Flemington, Westburn and Halfway.

Cupar is a town, former royal burgh and parish in Fife, Scotland. It lies between Dundee and Glenrothes. According to a 2011 population estimate, Cupar had a population around 9,000, making it the ninth-largest settlement in Fife, and the civil parish a population of 11,183. It is the historic county town of Fife, although the council now sits at Glenrothes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Duns, Scottish Borders</span> Human settlement in Scotland

Duns is a town in the Scottish Borders, Scotland. It was the county town of the historic county of Berwickshire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Inveresk</span> Conservation village in East Lothian, Scotland

Inveresk is a village in East Lothian, Scotland situated 58 mi (1 km) to the south of Musselburgh. It has been designated a conservation area since 1969. It is situated on slightly elevated ground on the north bank of a loop of the River Esk. This ridge of ground, 20 to 25 metres above sea level, was used by the Romans as the location for Inveresk Roman Fort in the 2nd century AD.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aberdeen Grammar School</span> Secondary school in Aberdeen, Scotland

Aberdeen Grammar School is a state secondary school in Aberdeen, Scotland. It is one of thirteen secondary schools run by the Aberdeen City Council educational department.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Montrose Academy</span> Comprehensive school in Montrose, Angus, Scotland

Montrose Academy is a coeducational secondary school in Montrose Angus. The School now teaches people from ages 11–18.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Inverness Royal Academy</span> Secondary school in Inverness, Scotland

Inverness Royal Academy is a comprehensive secondary school in the city of Inverness in the Highland area of Scotland.

Stirling High School is a state high school for 11- to 18-year-olds run by Stirling Council in Stirling, Scotland. It is one of seven high schools in the Stirling district, and has approximately 972 pupils. It is located on Torbrex Farm Road, near Torbrex Village in the suburbs of Stirling, previously being situated on the old volcanic rock where Stirling Castle lies and on Ogilvie Road.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">High School of Glasgow</span> Independent school in Glasgow, Scotland

The High School of Glasgow is an independent, co-educational day school in Glasgow, Scotland. The original High School of Glasgow was founded as the choir school of Glasgow Cathedral in around 1124, and is the oldest school in Scotland, and the twelfth oldest in the United Kingdom. On its closure as a selective grammar school by Glasgow City Corporation in 1976, it immediately continued as a co-educational independent school as a result of fundraising activity by its Former Pupil Club and via a merge by the Club with Drewsteignton School. The school maintains a relationship with the Cathedral, where it holds an annual service of commemoration and thanksgiving in September. It counts two British Prime Ministers, two Lords President and the founder of the University of Aberdeen among its alumni.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Madras College</span> School in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland

Madras College, often referred to as Madras, is a Scottish comprehensive secondary school located in St Andrews, Fife. It educates over 1,400 pupils aged between 11 and 18 and was founded in 1833 by the Rev. Dr Andrew Bell.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lasswade</span> Human settlement in Scotland

Lasswade is a village and civil parish in Midlothian, Scotland, on the River North Esk, nine miles south of Edinburgh city centre, contiguous with Bonnyrigg and between Dalkeith to the east and Loanhead to the west. Melville Castle lies to the north east. The Gaelic form is Leas Bhaid, meaning the "clump at the fort."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Royal High School, Edinburgh</span> State school in Edinburgh, Scotland

The Royal High School (RHS) of Edinburgh is a co-educational school administered by the City of Edinburgh Council. The school was founded in 1128 and is one of the oldest schools in Scotland. It serves 1,200 pupils drawn from four feeder primaries in the north-west of the city: Blackhall primary school, Clermiston primary school, Cramond and Davidson's Mains.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hamilton Academy</span> School in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Hamilton Academy was a school in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, Scotland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bell Baxter High School</span> Non-denominational comprehensive school for 11- to 18-year-olds in Cupar, Fife, Scotland

Bell Baxter High School is a non-denominational comprehensive school for 11- to 18-year-olds in Cupar, Fife, Scotland. Founded in 1889, it educates over 1,500 pupils mainly from the surrounding villages.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Trinity Academy, Edinburgh</span> School in Edinburgh, Scotland

Trinity Academy is a state-run secondary school in the north of Edinburgh, Scotland. It is located on the border between Trinity and Leith, next to Victoria Park, and a short distance from the banks of the Firth of Forth at Newhaven.

Kelso High School is a state-funded comprehensive secondary school in Kelso, Scotland, under the control of the Scottish Borders Council. It is one of nine secondary schools in the Scottish Borders and the only one in Kelso. Pupils come to Kelso High School from the town of Kelso, the villages of Ednam, Eckford, Stichill, Smailholm, Morebattle, Roxburgh, Yetholm and other hamlets in the surrounding area. The current building was opened to students in November 2017.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Howff</span> Burial ground in Dundee, Scotland

The Howff is a burial ground in the city of Dundee, Scotland. Established in 1564, it has one of the most important collections of tombstones in Scotland, and is protected as a category A listed building.


  1. "High School of Dundee - Coat of arms (crest) of High School of Dundee". www.heraldry-wiki.com. Heraldry of the World. Archived from the original on 28 January 2022. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  2. "Corporation of The High School of Dundee, SC011522". Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. Retrieved 12 August 2022.
  3. "High School of Dundee: Fees". High School of Dundee. Highschoolofdundee.co.uk. Archived from the original on 28 January 2022. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  4. "The Times & The Sunday Times". www.thetimes.co.uk. Timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 2 January 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)[ permanent dead link ]
  5. "Mr Daniel Goodey v The Corporation of the High School of Dundee: 4112626/2018" (PDF). GOV.UK. 2018–2019. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 January 2022. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  6. Johnson, Simon (5 August 2019). "Private school teacher wins £60,000 payout after being forced to quit for telling off pupil over late homework". The Telegraph. ISSN   0307-1235. Archived from the original on 28 January 2022. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  7. Horne, Marc. "High School of Dundee will not fight ruling that teacher was bullied out by John Halliday". The Times . ISSN   0140-0460. Archived from the original on 28 January 2022. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  8. "Perry, Walter Laing Macdonald, Baron Perry of Walton (1921–2003), pharmacologist and university administrator" . Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 8 January 2009 [4 January 2007]. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/92256. ISBN   978-0-19-861412-8 . Retrieved 2 January 2015.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  9. "Former SFA chief executive David Taylor dies suddenly aged 60". STV News. Retrieved 16 January 2017.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)[ permanent dead link ]
  10. Lacey, Hester (29 July 2016). "The Inventory: KT Tunstall" . Financial Times. Retrieved 16 January 2017.

Further reading