Kirkcudbright Academy Head Teacher Personal Statement

Kirkcudbright Academy is a state funded, six-year secondary school in Kirkcudbright, Scotland with about 450 pupils and 87 staff including teaching, support and administration.[1][2][3]


There is no definitive date for the founding of the Grammar School that, over time, evolved into today's Kirkcudbright Academy. It is possible that the Grammar School owes its origin to the Church of Scotland's 1560 First Book of Discipline that set out a plan for a school in every parish in Scotland. This plan was not universally successful due to financial limitations but it did result in the creation of some grammar schools in the following years. However, the Grammar School may even have existed in some form prior to this date as there were also cases of pre-existing schools being turned into reformed grammar schools by this initiative. The earliest actual evidence of its existence are Council Records that state that on 6 June 1582, the Magistrates and Council "appoint William Turner, schoolmaster, to teach the grammar school, with salary of 50 merks, to be paid quarterly - viz., Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, and Hallowe'en - and they to find him a sufficient schoolhouse, mail free."

The Grammar School stood on the grounds of St. Andrew's Church, the site of the present Roman Catholic Church, which was given to the burgh by Sir Thomas M'Lellan (the Provost) for the Freres Kirk and orchards, on which site he built his castle, the present ruin.

The school at this time was supported by a combination of kirk funds, contributions from the burgh council and charging parents fees. Education was focussed on the classics but it is possible that other subjects such as French and catechism were taught. It is recorded that pupils, many of whom were boarders, came from a much wider area of Scotland and England with records of a concentration coming from Liverpool and its surrounding areas.

In 1815, the Grammar School amalgamated with two other schools, the English School and the Commercial School to form the Academy of Kirkcudbright. This consolidated school needed more accommodation and so it moved to a new building on the current site in 1818. The accommodation initially consisted of three large class rooms entered from a spacious porch.

An interesting insight into education in the newly formed Academy in 1843 was provided by the Church of Scotland’s New Statistical Account of Scotland which provided a review of every Scottish Parish. It reports that “The Grammar, the Commercial, and the English schools, are united, and form the Academy of Kirkcudbright. This institution is under the patronage of the magistrates and town-council, and the salaries of the masters are paid by the burgh. There are nearly 200 pupils constantly attending the academy, and the fees for one branch of education vary from 2s. to 7s. 6d. per quarter. In the classical departments are taught Latin, Greek, and French, with ancient geography, &c. Attached to the grammar school is a library consisting of between 300 and 400 volumes of useful literature. It was instituted by the present master in 1837. The teacher of the grammar school is allowed a yearly salary of L.50; and he realizes by fees about L.60. In the commercial department are taught mathematics, navigation, geography, book-keeping, arithmetic, writing, &c. The teacher receives a salary of L.50; and his annual fees amount to about L.90. The master of the English school has a yearly salary of L.40; and his fees on an average amount to L.60. In this class are taught history, geography, composition, and the principles of the English language. The Academy of Kirkcudbright has long maintained a high reputation."

With the passing of the Education (Scotland) Act 1872, the Academy came under the management of the newly created Kirkcudbright School Board. This Act brought in compulsory education for all children between 5 and 13 in Scotland although fees still had to be paid until 1890.

The next 2 major developments occurred in 1901: the first was the minimum school leaving age was raised to 14; the second resulted from the Kirkcudbright School Board's decision to raise the Academy to the rank of a secondary school. In order to achieve this the school needed to create science and art departments so during 1901 an entire reconstruction of the school was carried out to provide those departments with properly equipped accommodation. The only parts of the original building left after this work were the front portions of the south and north wings.

This accommodation was subsequently substantially remodelled in 1926 which resulted in the Old School building that exists today. A series of subsequent extensions in the second half of the 20th Century have resulted in the newer buildings built to the West.

Notable alumni[edit]

See also: Category:People educated at Kirkcudbright Academy

  • Jennie Adamson, former Labour MP, Junior Minister and Labour Party Chair
  • Emma Baird, author
  • Professor Arthur Frederick Brown, former Professor of Physics and Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh[4]
  • Dr John Brown, former senior lecturer in history at Edinburgh University and mentor of former UK prime minister, Gordon Brown[5]
  • Katrina Bryan, actress
  • Malcolm Caldwell, academic and Marxist writer, twice chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
  • Finlay Carson, Scottish Conservative PartyMSP for the Galloway and West Dumfries constituency[6]
  • Robert Carson, leading expert on Roman coins, and Keeper of Coins and Medals at the British Museum from 1978 to 1983[7]
  • David R Collin, author
  • Edgar Corrie, Liverpool trader and anti-slavery campaigner.
  • John Corrie, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party politician, former MP & MEP and chief of Clan Corrie[8]
  • David Coulthard, former Formula One racing driver[9]
  • James Craik was Physician General (precursor of the Surgeon General) of the United States Army, and George Washington's personal physician and close friend.
  • George Davidson, long serving former lifeboat coxwain who, over a 34 year tenure, saved over 50 lives[10]
  • John Duncan (traveller in Africa), Adventurer, explorer and author
  • John Erskine, 1st Baron Erskine of Rerrick, banker, Governor of Northern Ireland[11]
  • Dr Maxwell Garthshore, Scottish physician and Fellow of the Royal Society
  • Bazil Gordon, tobacco merchant who by the time of his death was believed to be America's richest man and its first ever millionaire
  • Sir Robin Gray (New Zealand politician), former MP and 23rd Speaker of the House of Representatives New Zealand
  • Haig Gordon, former TV reporter and presenter, author
  • Thomas Gordon (writer), Scottish writer and Commonwealth man
  • William Greggan, Olympian and Silver Medalist 1908 Games - Tug of War
  • Julia Hamilton, author[12]
  • Ellis Hayes, former World Champion highland dancer
  • Thomas Henney MBE Scottish architect[13]
  • George Henry (painter), Glasgow Boys Artist
  • Edward Atkinson Hornel, Painter
  • Innes Ireland, former Formula One racing driver[9]
  • George Kerr (New Brunswick politician)
  • David Lenox, American Revolutionary soldier who led the rescue of James Wilson, one of the "founding fathers" of the United States and a signatory of the Declaration of Independence. Following the Revolutionary War, President George Washington appointed Lenox to be the second U.S. Marshal for the District of Pennsylvania where he was instrumental in suppressing the Whiskey Rebellion. After Lenox left his position as Marshal, he served as Agent for the United States to the Court of St. James's. Later, he distinguished himself in commerce, banking and finance eventually becoming the second ever President of the Philadelphia Bank. One time owner of the historically significant Davis-Lenox House in Philadelphia.[14]
  • Robert Lenox, brother of David above, American businessman and property investor after whom the Lenox Hill neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City is named.[15]
  • Bert MacLachlan, former professional football player who played for Aston Villa, Aberdeen and Heart of Midlothian
  • David MacMyn, former rugby union international, President of the Scottish Rugby Union & surgeon
  • John MacTaggart, author of The Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia and founder of the short lived London Scotsman newspaper
  • Bob McDougall, former professional football player who played for Liverpool FC
  • Sir John McMichael, former Professor of Medicine at Hammersmith Hospital, London, Director of the British Postgraduate Medical Federation and a trustee of the Wellcome Trust[16]
  • Robert Milligan (Bradford MP), Liberal Party politician and the first mayor of Bradford
  • James R Minto, former pioneering educator and charity worker[17]
  • James McMonies, former Canadian businessman and politician
  • Sir John Nairne, 1st Baronet, former Chief Cashier then Director of the Bank of England and a BBC Governor
  • Sir Andrew Sloane, former policeman, detective on the Yorkshire Ripper case & Chief Constable of Strathclyde[18]
  • Jack G Smith, former assistant general manager with the Bank of Scotland[19]
  • James Smith, International Show Jumper
  • Samuel Smith, Liberal politician, former MP and co-founder of Edge Hill University[20]
  • Edward Telfair, American Revolutionary, three time Governor of the state of Georgia, member of the Continental Congress, and signatory to the Articles of Confederation.
  • James Williamson (Victorian politician)
  • Kathleen Wilson PhD OBE, Nurse turned academic who co-authored the defining textbook for healthcare students[21]
  • James Wolffe QC, is a senior Scottish lawyer who has served as Lord Advocate since 1 June 2016.

Notable staff[edit]


Kirkcudbright Academy is a mixed, non-selective, non-denominational secondary school with sixth form situated in the town of Kirkcudbright within Dumfries and Galloway, in western Scotland. It is a state school. Smaller than average in size for a school of its type, the school’s latest handbook identifies a school roll of 415 secondary and sixth form students between the ages of 12-18.

The known history of the school goes back to the 16th century, one of its first records being from June 1582. At this time, only classics were part of the curriculum. It only originally taught boys, but appointed a mistress to teach girls in 1965, before the school grew into being fully co-educational. The first academy building on the school’s current site was constructed in 1818, and there have been renovations and extensions as recently as the late 1950s.


Anthony Tuffery

Values and Vision

The school motto is “Radicem Firmant Frondes”, translating as “from the roots comes strength”. It is an institution that values every one of its students and supports them through these most important educational years of their lives. It is a welcoming and happy school that provides a learning community to fully support its students.

Education Scotland

“[Strengths discovered by the inspection team include] the quality of relationships between young people and staff which is supporting their learning, young people who are proud of their school, keen to learn and are attaining well. Staff [are also] working together to manage change effectively.

View Kirkcudbright Academy’s latest Education Scotland report

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