Striving Higher

‘John MacLeod’s remarkable, at times magical work, shows why there is so much pride felt by generations of staff and pupils here.’ – John Robertson, Jordanhill Journal

Opened in November 1920 as a ‘demonstration school’ for the training of untold Scottish teachers, set amidst beautiful grounds in a particularly pleasant corner of Glasgow, Jordanhill is Scotland’s only state school never to have been under the control of a local authority.

It has twice fought off determined threats to close or privatise it and, since 1988, has been run by a Board of Managers elected regularly by parents and staff, directly funded by what is now the Scottish Government.

Always co-educational and, since 1970, a community comprehensive, it’s a ‘through’ school’ – offering continuous education from the ages of five to eighteen – and it’s extraordinarily good, frequently posting the best results of any Scottish state school and with facilities envied by many private ones.

Through its first century it has weathered the Great Depression, the Second World War – twenty former pupils made the supreme sacrifice – and decades of accelerating social and educational change, under some memorable leaders.

But this is also the story of when Charles Rennie Mackintosh hit the whisky, the headmaster who almost overdosed on Epsom salts, his stately successor – who once regretted his inability to meet the Parent-Teacher Association because ‘I have an appointment with the Ministry of Defence,’ – the day the boiler-room exploded, the teacher who was locked in a cupboard (by his pupils) till he sang the Tetley Tea jingle … and when even Margaret Thatcher stoutly declared of Jordanhill, ‘There is no question of the school closing.’

Brisk, illuminating and often profoundly moving, former pupil John MacLeod reveals all, in prose that sparkles and fizzes, about a school cherished the world over by thousands of former pupils – a school like no other.

Published3 October 2019