Scotland’s oldest school turns 900

Scotland’s oldest school, The High School of Glasgow, is celebrating its 900th anniversary this year.

The school traditionally takes 1124 as its foundation date and it has grown and evolved in tandem with the city of Glasgow.

To mark this significant anniversary, the school is running a year-long programme of events during 2024 and is this week launching a fundraising appeal, the 900 Campaign, to increase the school’s Bursary Fund, to develop an educational initiative called START promoting new skills for youngsters and to ensure the campuses are sustainable places of learning.

The 900 celebrations commenced with a homecoming dinner at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum attended by 450 guests on Saturday 20th January. It was a joyous affair, bringing together many former pupils and staff, current parents and friends of the school. On the night, £45,000 was raised for the 900 Campaign by generous guests.

A highlight was a rousing rendition of the School Song played on Kelvingrove’s spectacular organ by David Brown (Class of 1991) who had travelled all the way from Australia to attend. Grace was given by the recently retired Minister John Purves of Drumchapel St Andrew’s Church, an individual with a close connection to the school. John was also representing the school’s origins as he now has a role at Glasgow Cathedral.

Retired Minister John Purves of Drumchapel St Andrew’s Church.

Other events to mark 900 years include a Gala Musical Concert at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in June, a 900km sponsored cycle across the UK in September, a major art exhibition and a sporting showcase involving current and former pupils. There will be a special 900 Commemorative and Thanksgiving Service in September at Glasgow Cathedral. There are a number of other exciting plans, all of which can be found here.

John O’Neill, Rector of The High School of Glasgow, said: “The 900th Dinner at Kelvingrove was a very special moment for the school and I thank everyone who came along and made the night a memorable one. Thank you for supporting us and for the generous contributions you made as we launch the 900 Campaign.

“Our fundraising appeal aims to increase our Bursary Fund by £4 million to allow us to widen access and ensure a higher number of children can benefit from learning at the school. It will also allow us to fund START, an exciting new venture which we believe will make a real difference to young people across Scotland, including our own pupils. Our appeal also focuses on ensuring our campuses are as sustainable as possible.

“These initiatives support the values of the school which have been shaped over many years to be as inclusive as possible allowing us to meet the challenges in education and ensure the school can support many more young people in the future.”

Former School and House Captains in attendance at the 900th Gala Dinner.

Chairing the 900 Campaign is Colin Mair, former Rector of the School (from 2004 to 2015). Colin’s career at the High School spanned almost 40 years, making him the perfect individual to lead fundraising on this significant year.

Colin Mair, Chair of the 900 Campaign, said: “The High School of Glasgow has a long tradition of fundraising involving our former pupils, parents, current families and friends of the school. As we mark 900 years, we give thanks to those individuals without whose support the school would not exist today. Through the 900 fundraising campaign, and the continued goodwill of the extended school community, our aim is to leave an enduring legacy with a wider bursary programme, the START initiative and to meet our net-zero goals.”