Aberdeen Grammar School

Aberdeen Grammar School

Infobox UK school
name = Aberdeen Grammar School

size = 225px
motto = Bon Record
established = c. 1257
type = Grammar School
head_label = Rector
head = Mr Graham Leggeciteweb|url=http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/ACCI/web/site/SchoolsColleges/scc_schools_list.asp|title=Alphabetical list of Aberdeen City Schools|accessdate=2007-05-28]
street = Skene Street
city = Aberdeen
country = flagicon|Scotland Scotland
postcode = AB10 1HT
LEA = Aberdeen City Council
staff = 143 (2006)
enrollment = 1168 (2006)
gender = Co-educational
lower_age = 11
upper_age = 18
houses = Byron, Melvin, Keith-Dun
colours = Blue, red and white
color box|Blue color box|Red color box|White
publication = The Grammarian
website = http://www.grammar.org.uk
website_name = grammar.org.uk

Aberdeen Grammar School, known to students as The Grammar or AGS, is a state secondary school in the City of Aberdeen, Scotland. It is one of twelve secondary schools run by the Aberdeen City Council educational department. [cite web
title=Aberdeen Grammar School
] It is the oldest in the city and one of the oldest grammar schools in the United Kingdom, with a history spanning 750 years.

Founded around 1257, the year used in official school records, it began operating as a school only for boys. Located on Skene Street, near the centre of the city, it was originally situated on Schoolhill, close to the current site of Robert Gordon's College. It moved to its current site in 1863, and became co-educational in 1973. From 1970–1977 it was known as Rubislaw Academy, after the nearby Rubislaw area of Aberdeen.

In an annual survey run by the British broadsheet newspaper "The Times", Aberdeen Grammar was rated the 12th best Scottish state secondary school in 2007, and second in Aberdeen behind Cults Academy. [cite web| url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/parentpower/league_tables.php?t=state_secondary_schools_in_scotland|title=The top 50 state secondary schools in Scotland| accessdate=2008-08-05| date=2007| language=English] There are three houses in the school—Byron, Melvin and Keith-Dunn—who compete frequently in different inter-house sporting events.

The most notable alumnus is Lord Byron, the famous poet and writer. A statue of him was erected in the front courtyard of the school. Other alumni include Scottish international footballer Russell Anderson and mathematician Hector Munro Macdonald.


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 as "Master of the Schools", in place of Andrew of Chivas, who died.cite web| url=http://www.take2theweb.com/pub/sso/aberdeengs/c.html?1156755753| title=School History| accessdate=2007-01-30| date=2006| language=English] 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. [cite book|last = Turreff| first = Gavin| title = Antiquarian Gleanings from Aberdeenshire Records| publisher = King| year = 1859| isbn = 1432633376|chapter url=http://books.google.com/books?id=dXNSkrPn_dQC&pg=PA140&dq=%22Aberdeen+Grammar+School%22&as_brr=1&ei=Vel_R-_8FZnOtAOjjfy_Cw&sig=UuocuM16NqZD9O6nAIO05_t4DYg, Page 65] 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 got involved and stopped the riot, and 21 pupils were expelled, while some were arrested. [Turreff, Page 65]

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 Modern Language Block (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 after the summer of 1973 when girls were first admitted.

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. [cite web|url=http://www.hmie.gov.uk/documents/inspection/aberdeen_grammar06.html|title=Aberdeen Grammar School Aberdeen - HMIE|accessdate=2007-12-06|date=2000|language=English] 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 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.cite map |publisher=Google Maps |title=Aberdeen. Placemark key on left.|url=http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF&msa=0&msid=116252837442601174092.000440a46f4b66e198e18 |year=2007 |accessmonth=December |accessyear=2007]

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, most recently, a bomb threat. [cite web|url=http://news.scotsman.com/education.cfm?id=1129532002|title=Milk protest turns sour|accessdate=2007-01-30|date=2002|language=English] [cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/north_east/7092189.stm|title=Charges over "threatening call"|accessdate = 2007-11-18|date= 2007|language = English]

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. [cite web|url=http://www.s1play.com/on-stage/detail/106449-1073.html?location=1631-Aberdeen&time=2007-3-1%2C2007-3-31-in%20march&venue=|title=s1 event overview|accessdate = 2007-12-06|date= 2007|language = English] Also in 2007, work was completed on a new gymnasium, after beginning two years previous.cite web|url=http://www.take2theweb.com/pub/sso/aberdeengs/d.html?1129189242|title=Aberdeen Grammar School News|accessdate = 2007-12-06|language = English] The new building is a stark contrast to the remainder of the school, as it has a modern interior compared with the old granite.

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.

Present day

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. [cite web| url=http://www.scotland.gov.uk/library/documents-w5/ssc-06.htm| title=Scottish Schools: Costs for Scottish Schools 1996/97 to 1998/99| accessdate=2007-01-30| date=1999| language=English] This is however much less than today, when Aberdeen City Council spent an average of £5,834 per secondary school pupil as a whole in its authority during the 2005–2006 session.

Subjects and qualifications

The curriculum is much the same as used for the rest of the Scottish state secondary schools, and provides for a wide range of subjects. Pupils are presented for Standard Grade, Intermediate 1 and Intermediate 2, Higher and Advanced Higher examinations through the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). An emphasis is on the more traditional subjects such as mathematics, English and modern languages. French and German are taught at the school, but Spanish was discontinued in 2006 due to shortage of staff. Also taught are subject areas such as craft, design and technology, [cite web| url=http://www.take2theweb.com/pub/sso/aberdeengs/jl.html| title=Craft, Design and Technology (school website)| accessdate=2007-12-06| date=2006| language=English] business studies and the social subjects – modern studies, history and geography.cite web| url = http://www.take2theweb.com/pub/sso/aberdeengs/images/AGS_Prospectus_2006_v2.pdf| format=PDF|title = School Prospectus 2006| accessdate = 2007-01-30| date= 2006| language = English]

To conform to government health and fitness regimes, each year must spend two school periods (1 hour 45 minutes usually) per week at the Rubislaw Playing Fields with their year. This is not an optional area of the course, until the sixth and final year. However, in this year it can be selected as an additional subject which is not in any columns on the choice form. The sporting year is split into winter and summer games, with the outdoor sports concentrated on in summer and the indoor in winter. The range of sports covered in the course include rugby, football, hockey, softball, cricket, swimming and tennis.

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.cite web| url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/parentpower/school_profile.php?id=SCS012|title=Times Newspaper - "Parent Power 2007"| accessdate=2007-12-11| date=2007| language=English]

Pupils and catchment area

About 1160 attend the school each year, between the ages of about 11 to 18. The school's catchment area centres around 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. However, 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-Dun" and "Melvin". The house system is limited to mostly sporting events, but the system was revised recently to bring the tradition of school houses back into the everyday running of the school. Competitions take place between houses, particularly in sport, during the annual inter-house games afternoons. These take place during the month just before Easter where houses compete in rugby, football and hockey. Recently, under the new rector, other activities have been included into house competitions. The system is also used to identify pupils' register classes.

The school has a strong sporting tradition, and has a particular emphasis on boys' rugby union and girls' hockey.cite web| url=http://www.aberdeenrugby.co.uk/| title=Aberdeen Grammar Rugby| accessdate=2007-12-07| language=English] There is a strong link to the former pupils club, who provide extra coaching on some games afternoons and with whom many pupils continue to play for once they leave school. The school has several successful 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. [cite web
title=Scottish Golf View

A yearly school musical is performed by the "Face the Music" society; recent performances include Grease, Annie Get Your Gun and Snork – a locally written musical. A solely pupil-run theatre group performs each year as part of the "Pied Piper" society.

There are musical evenings twice a year that showcase the school's musical talent. There is a concert band, jazz band, junior and senior choirs and a string orchestra. Lessons are available in brass, woodwind, strings, piano, guitar and percussion, and every pupil is educated in music as part of their curriculum. Also in the school is a successful debating club, open to all pupils. The club meets weekly in the school's lecture theatre, split into two different age categories—juniors and seniors—and argue over predefined motions to match the pupils interests. Participants in each category are given opportunities to represent the school, competing nationally in different tournaments.cite web| url=http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/ACC_Data/committee%20minutes/cs_edu_min_060116.pdf| title=Education and Leisure Committee| accessdate=2007-12-08| language=English]

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.cite web| url=http://www.agsfp.com/NEWhome.htm| title=Aberdeen Grammar School Former Pupils| accessdate=2007-12-07| language=English] These include the Scottish Premier Division rugby team and the Aberdeen GSFP RFC, who play at Rubislaw Playing Fields.


There have been many rectors who have headed the school.

Notable alumni and teachers

*Lord Byron, poet, famous poems include Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and Don Juan. His statue stands in front of the school. [cite web| url=http://englishhistory.net/byron/life.html| title=The Life of George Noel Gordon, Lord Byron| accessdate=2007-12-21| language=English]

*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.cite web| url=http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Macdonald.html| title=Macdonald Biography| accessdate=2007-12-07| language=English]

*Robin Cook, former cabinet member and Secretary of State, now deceased.cite web| url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4127676.stm| title=BBC Obituary, 6th August 2005| accessdate=2007-12-26]

*Alexander Cruden, theologian, author of Cruden's Bible Concordance.

*David Masson, Scottish writer. [cite web| url=http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/David_Masson| title=David Masson| accessdate=2007-12-21| language=English]

*Eric Grove, Professor of Naval History, University of Salford

*David West, Scottish watercolour painter.

*Steve Robertson of "Scotland the What?" [cite web| url=http://www.aboutaberdeen.com/scotlandthewhat.php| title=Scotland the What?| accessdate=2007-12-21| language=English]

*Russell Anderson, Scotland international footballer, former captain of Aberdeen FC and now signed to Sunderland FC.

*Kyle Coetzer, Scottish Cricketer.

*Dallas Moir, former Scottish Cricketer.

*Jeremy Moir, former Scottish Cricketer.

*Andrew Cruickshank, Film and television actor.

* Eric Linklater, author.

*David Wedderburn (teacher), wrote Vocabula in 1636. [ [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/28955 "Wedderburn, David"] , Oxford Dictionary of National Biography] [cite web| url=http://www.scottishgolfhistory.net/golf_word.htm| title=Origin and meaning of the word "golf"| accessdate=2007-12-21| language=English] [Turreff, Page 296]

*Andrew J. Milne, Moderator of the General Assembly, 1905.

*James Fraser McLuskey, Moderator of the General Assembly, 1983.

*David William Lacy, Moderator of the General Assembly, 2005.

*James Legge, first Professor of Chinese at Oxford University.

*David Gregory, Professor of Mathematics at University of Edinburgh, Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Oxford University. Commentator on Isaac Newton's Principia.

*William Robinson Clark, Dean of Taunton and Prebendary of Wells and Professor of Theology, mental and moral philosophy at University of Toronto, Canada.

*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.

*James Beattie, Professor of Moral Philosophy and Logic at University of Aberdeen, Marischal College.

* Craig Clunas, Professor of Art History at University of Sussex, SOAS and Oxford University.

Professor Paul GoughExecutive Dean: Faculty of Creative ArtsPro-Vice Chancellor: UWE Bristol


External links

School links:
* [http://www.grammar.org.uk/ Grammar School Webpage]
* [http://www.scottishschoolsonline.gov.uk/schools/aberdeengrammarschoolaberdeencity.asp Aberdeen Grammar School's page on Scottish Schools Online]
* [http://www.take2theweb.com/pub/sso/aberdeengs/images/AGS_Prospectus_2006_v2.pdf 2006 Prospectus (download). Details exam results, pupil and staff numbers, departments and other statistics] .
* [http://www.hmie.gov.uk/institute.asp?typ=3&ins=6301 HM School Inspectors' Report]

FP's club:
* [http://www.agsfp.com/ Former Pupils Club]
* [http://www.aberdeenrugby.co.uk/ AGSFP Rugby]
* [http://www.grammarhockey.org.uk/ AGSFP Hockey]
* [http://www.ags1959.com/ Class of 1959 - 50th reunion info]

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