Cathkin High School

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Cathkin High School
Motto Be All You Can Be
Established 1970
Closed Moved to a new building nearby in October 2008
Type Secondary School Comprehensive School
Religion Non-denominational
Headteacher Anne Marie McNair
Depute Headteacher J Taylor
D Gebbie
D Levey
R Doig
Location Langlea Road
G72 8ES
Local authority South Lanarkshire
Staff 81.4 FTE
Students 1011
Gender Mixed
Ages 11–18
Houses Kelvin, Mackintosh, Burns, Livingston and Telford
Colours Red & yellow
School years S1-S6
Feeder Schools Cathkin Primary School
Cairns Primary School
James Aiton Primary School
Hallside Primary School
Loch Primary School
West Coats Primary School
Website Cathkin High School

Cathkin High School is a state secondary school in Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire (Greater Glasgow), Scotland.

Senior Management Team[edit]

The Headteacher is Anne Marie McNair. She is assisted by her Depute Headteachers J Taylor, D Gebbie, D Levey & U Young.


Cathkin uses a house system. The school is split into five these and they are:

  • Mackintosh
  • Kelvin
  • Livingston
  • Burns
  • Telford

Feeder Schools[edit]

James Aiton Primary, Cairns Primary, Cathkin Primary, Hallside Primary, Loch Primary, West Coats Primary.


Cathkin High first opened its doors for the start of the autumn term in August 1970 and was the first ‘comprehensive’ school in the Rutherglen and Cambuslang area. The new building lay slightly north of where it lies now and had its main entrance on Western Road. The new school’s most attractive features - at least from a pupil perspective – were a swimming pool, a high-tech gym hall, showering facilities and a theatre for delivering lectures and putting on shows. There were also plenty of green spaces round about for playing ball sports – which was more than could be said for many of the other schools nearby. Oddly, the school had a coal-fired central-heating system that belched clouds of black smoke from a tall stack. This perplexed and angered local residents because several years previously the whole area had been designated a ‘smokeless zone’. People wondered why, if householders were obliged to spend more on smokeless fuel, the new school was allowed to burn coal.

Prior to the advent of Cathkin High, a selective schooling system had existed in the area. Spring 1969 saw the last sitting of the dreaded Eleven-Plus exam which had decided the educational fate of all pupils in their final year of primary school. Those who passed the Eleven-Plus were sent to a senior secondary school, namely: Rutherglen Academy, or Hamilton Academy for those who had obtained the highest marks. This situation prevailed until 1967 when, for some reason, Hamilton Academy stopped accepting the best performers from outwith the Hamilton area. This meant that in August 1967, August 1968 and August 1969 all those attending Rutherglen and Cambuslang primaries who passed the Eleven-Plus were sent to Rutherglen Academy as that was now the only senior secondary school for the area. Conversely, those who failed the Eleven-Plus were sent to Gateside School, Cambuslang – if they’d attended a primary in Cambuslang – or Gallowflat School in Rutherglen, if they’d attended a primary in Rutherglen. Gateside and Gallowflat were known as junior secondary schools where pupils stayed for three years until they were around fifteen years old when they left to start work, which was usually some kind of apprenticeship. Unlike today, back then apprenticeships - like most jobs - were easily come by and very few junior secondary leavers failed to get one. Rutherglen and Hamilton Academies on the other hand were six-year schools that pupils attended until they were eighteen and left with a collection of O-Grade, Higher and CSYS (Certificate of Sixth-Year Studies) qualifications which admitted them to universities and tertiary education colleges. Junior secondary pupils left without even O-Grades because these were taken in fourth-year and, as mentioned above, junior secondaries were only three-year schools.

At any rate, academic session August 1969 until June 1970 was the last to see first-year pupils at Rutherglen Academy, Gateside and Gallowflat who had come to each school as a result of the old selective system governed by the Eleven-Plus. From August 1970 all primary seven pupils in the district, irrespective of their academic abilities, proceeded to a comprehensive secondary school without having been required to pass any kind of examination to get there. Exceptions to this were those better-off pupils who had passed the entry tests for, and were going to, Glasgow fee-paying schools like Hutchesons' Grammar (Hutchie), Glasgow High, Kelvinside Academy, Glasgow Academy, St. Aloysuis' College, Notre Dame, Park and Laurel Bank etc. It should be noted that in 1969/70 all these schools were single-sex, with Glasgow High and Hutchesons' Grammar teaching boys and girls on separate campuses.

But, in the state sector, not everyone was lucky enough to attend the brand new Cathkin High.

Rutherglen Academy - based at the corner of Stonelaw Road and Melrose Avenue, now residential flats - changed its name to Stonelaw High and became a four-year school taking pupils up to O-Grades only. Those wishing to do Highers and CSYS would eventually finish up at Cathkin High for their fifth and sixth years. Existing Rutherglen Academy pupils – who had completed their first, second or third years at the school over session 1969–70 – were only moved up to Cathkin High if they had originally come from one of the primaries in Cambuslang, Hallside, Halfway, Cathkin/Springhall, Carmunnock and Burnside. Meanwhile, it almost goes without saying that all senior pupils who, in session 1970–71, would have been going into fifth and sixth year at Rutherglen Academy had the system not been changed, were moved up to Cathkin as well regardless of which primary school they’d attended. Whereas, first, second and third year pupils who had come from one of the primaries in Rutherglen, including Spittal, Bankhead and Toryglen, were retained in the erstwhile Rutherglen Academy building - now Stonelaw High - and merged with pupils from Gallowflat, Rutherglen’s erstwhile junior secondary. In due course pupils from Gateside - Cambuslang’s former junior secondary on Hamilton Road - were merged with former Rutherglen Academy pupils at Cathkin High and many of the Gatesiders stayed on to obtain certificates there.

So, from an academic angle the new setup appeared to represent a much finer and fairer education policy. Yet, from a social angle it was bad news. In the first place, you will readily imagine how miffed all the old Rutherglen Academy pupils were at having to leave many of their best chums behind at Stonelaw – just because they’d had the misfortune to attend a Rutherglen primary school. Simultaneously the Ruglonians were just as miffed for the same reason in reverse and also at not being afforded all the new ‘facilities’ like: the swimming pool, the state-of-the-art gym hall, the showers and the theatre enjoyed by their pals ‘up the road’. But it was the breaking up of relationships that brought the most disquiet, especially to second-year pupils who, in line with common practice, had the previous year made loads of new Rutherglen friends at the Academy and missed them sorely at Cathkin. Such is the nature of young people in the 12-14 age-group. So how odd that the authorities ignored it.

Then there was what can only be described as a ‘cultural dissonance’ at Cathkin which came about as a result of merging largely less-able and weakly motivated children from Gateside School with generally more able and strongly motivated ones from Rutherglen Academy. These discords quickly divided the school into two camps; the Gatesiders perceived the Rutherglen Academy pupils as ‘snobs’; and there was much fighting and bullying that head teacher James Munn (later Sir James Munn) found hard to control. This rough stuff was particularly challenging for the youngest pupils, who still had to go ‘out to play’ during intervals, but progressively less so for older pupils who had year common rooms and more important things to think about than sparring with others. Indeed, I think it would be safe to assert that, during its first two years of operation, pupils in fifth and sixth year at Cathkin High had no hassle of this nature. It was mainly a problem for first, second and third years with perhaps a few difficulties affecting fourth years too because some children take longer than others to grow up and start acting in more socially acceptable ways.

Also, right from the start and for many years thereafter, local residents who lived in the vicinity of and along the various routes to and from Cathkin High had justifiable grounds to lament the existence of the school on account of the level of vandalism perpetrated by a significant number of its pupils. Many of these kids came from less-affluent parts of the district and seemed to rejoice in inflicting damage upon, stealing from the gardens of and generally being a nuisance to residents of the owner-occupied properties or ‘poash hooses’ as they called them. Despite considerable police involvement, communications with rectors (head teachers) and political representatives the vandalism problem continued to a greater or lesser extent for well over thirty years and was always much worse in August at the start of each new school session. Throughout the period germane, diverse incidences of malicious damage caused by some mischievous Cathkin High pupils cost many local residents thousands of pounds in repairs.

However, as the noughties progressed the vandalism problem decreased, due in no small measure to more effective tactics by the local police and the pupils receiving far better instruction in good citizenship. Then, around the mid-noughties, a new head teacher was appointed to Cathkin High and almost at once the school became quite different from what it once was and had been allowed to remain for far too long. Now I think it would be safe to say that local residents find it virtually transparent. Pupils are much better dressed in their stylish uniforms; they are polite, courteous, better-behaved and considerate to the lieges round about; and rumour has it that the vandalism problem has all but vanished. Long may this situation continue. Cathkin High always had the potential to be a really first-class school. But indifferent and - some have alleged ‘cack-handed' - management over the years prevented it from being so. Now that’s all changed. Since the arrival of that new head teacher circa 2006 Cathkin High swiftly became what it should have been right from the beginning.

Otherwise, in October 2008 the school moved from its original premises on Western Road to a brand new building entered from Langlea Road. This is part of a PFI project dreamed up by the last Labour government under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. It includes another school next door - Rutherglen High - for children with learning difficulties. There is also a large floodlit MUGA pitch for the use of both schools and outside sporting groups which hire it in the evenings from South Lanarkshire Leisure & Culture (a company hived-off from South Lanarkshire Council). Needless to say, local residents objected strongly to this scheme. But typically it went ahead regardless and, to be honest, hasn’t proved as much of a nuisance as at first feared, though the floodlights can be annoying for some in the winter evenings. Meanwhile, noise levels are usually negligible.

Behind Cathkin High, looking on to Stewarton Drive, South Lanarkshire Leisure has for some time been trying to develop a rugby pitch but have been continually hampered by ‘problems with water’. Indeed, ‘problems with water’ held up the completion of the two schools between 2006 and 2008. This is unsurprising because a small burn (stream) runs from the east past the two schools on their southern sides and, doubtless as a result, the land on which the entire complex is built has always had a tendency to be water-logged. A big part of Cathkin High sits right now on what invariably became during periods of heavy rain a ‘mega puddle’ suitable for sailing model boats in the days when the field was worked by the late John Lahore of Whitlawburn Farm. In the mid-1960s Mr Lahore sold his land to The County Council of The County of Lanark (as it was then) and moved to Montrose. Then, for many years thereafter, countless test borings were carried out in this field. But since after each boring no building project got underway, local people naturally assumed that the ground was unsuitable for building, not only due to the existence of the aforementioned burn, but also due to the network of mine-workings underneath the field - a legacy from the Coates Colliery (pit) that once stood near to the current Cambuslang Rugby Club off Langlea Road. Up until the 1950s lots of households ordered their coal supplies directly from this pit.

So it’s easy to understand why local residents’ objections to the latest Cathkin High/Rutherglen High complex didn’t just accrue from the visual and aural impact it promised to have on the area. People - especially old people who had lived in the district for decades - were deeply concerned about the suitability of the land for building on. After all, the Lahore family had only ever used that field for grazing Guernsey cattle and growing barley, and maybe it wasn’t even best-suited for those purposes given that, around 1965, Mr Lahore had felt constrained to move away to pastures new in Fife. Who knows?

Leastwise we can only hope that ‘the experts’ have got all their calculations ‘spot on’.

Notable former pupils & teachers[edit]

Scottish folk singer Adam McNaughton was a teacher of English at the now-defunct Rutherglen Academy, and later at Cathkin High School.

Also a former pupil of Cathkin High school Duncan Weir, who now plays professional rugby for the Glasgow Warriors.

Also Professional Footballer Kenny McLean attended Cathkin High, he now plays for Scottish Premier League team St Mirren

Andy Park - a charismatic art teacher at Rutherglen Academy who may well have proceeded up to Cathkin High in 1970. Around this time Andy often appeared on STV with his jazz trio and went on to become Head of Programmes at Radio Clyde, which began broadcasting in 1974. Later Andy was a well-known TV producer at the BBC and also in Independent Television, notably Channel 4.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°48′38″N 4°10′59″W / 55.81056°N 4.18306°W / 55.81056; -4.18306