Douglas Academy

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Douglas Academy
Douglas Academy Badge 2.png
Mains Estate

, ,
G62 7HL

Scotland, United Kingdom
TypeState secondary school
MottoNeart Tre Eolas – Scottish Gaelic (Strength Through Knowledge)
Chair of the School BoardRamsay Shields[1]
HeadteacherBarry Smedley (BEd)
Staffc. 100
Age11 to 18
Enrolment993 (Session 2015–2016)

Douglas Academy is a non-denominational, co-educational, comprehensive secondary school in the town of Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire, serving the Milngavie, Craigton and Baldernock areas. Douglas Academy is one of Scotland's top performing state schools. In 2007, Douglas Academy was ranked as Scotland's top performing state school, and with every year the school continues to place among the highest in the country.[2][3]


The school is named after the Douglases of Mains, who were a branch family of the Clan Douglas. The Douglases are an ancient clan, and subsequent noble house from the Scottish Lowlands who held vast territories throughout the Scottish Borders; Angus, Lothian, Moray, and in France and Sweden. The Douglases of Mains were related to the main branch through their common ancestor Archibald I, Lord of Douglas, a Scottish medieval nobleman born in the 12th century.

The lands of the Mains, where the school is situated, were originally granted by the Earl of Lennox to Maurice Galbraith in the 13th century. The Galbraith Family held these lands until 1373, when a descendant of Lord Douglas's second son, Nicholas Douglas, married Janet Galbraith, the heiress of the Mains. Thus, the Douglas family inherited the extensive lands of the Mains, and were elevated to Lairds of the estate in the same year by King Robert II of Scotland.[4]

Incidentally, King Robert was Scotland's first Monarch of the House of Stewart (Stuart); the Scottish royal dynasty that would eventually oversee the Union of Scotland and England in 1606 through Monarch, and the Act of Union in 1707 that amalgamated the countries under one state named Great Britain. Thus, the history of the school is firmly cemented into the history of the British Isles, and with its infamous royal dynasty.

The title became extinct in the 20th century; the last 33.5 acres (13.6 ha) of the estate (including the house) was sold to Dunbartonshire county[5] and was subsequently used for the erection of the secondary school, Douglas Academy, in Milngavie prior to the death of the last heir, the 21st Lord of Mains, Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Vivian Campbell Douglas in 1977.[6]

The original school building served the site from 1967 until 2009, when it was demolished and replaced with a newer model.

New building[edit]

As part of an extensive PPP project (Public-Private Partnership) marshaled by the Scottish Government with £100 million funding, Douglas Academy has been rebuilt along with various other East Dunbartonshire schools. The new Douglas Academy building replaced the old school with a modern new look from the beginning of the 2009–2010 school year; now enjoying, yet still within the original school grounds, facilities fit for 21st century purpose.

Seamus Black, the former head teacher, oversaw this transition to which at the start of the new school period, a video was compiled to provide a concise description of the new building.

Surrounding area[edit]

Milngavie town centre

The school is flanked by the housing estate, aptly named "Mains" estate, after the aforementioned Lairds of the Mains. However, looking outwards, Douglas Academy is situated in the heart of the suburb of Milngavie, just north of its own village centre. Due to this, Douglas Academy continues to educate succeeding generations of Milngavie's family residents, whether they live in the Mains estate or outwith, and co-operation between the school and the town remains high. Indeed, this is directly achieved through the rich, shared history of Douglas Academy and Milngavie articulated in the fore article.

A poignant example of this shared history came in the wake of the First World War when the 20th Laird of Mains, Brigadier-General Campbell Douglas, father to the mentioned 21st and last, unveiled the Milngavie War Memorial in the village centre in 1922. The Laird proclaimed:

We are taking part today in a ceremony which surely will long remain in the annals of the burgh of Milngavie and district. It is our very great significant to all of us in our hearts that we are honouring the memory of the 110 brave men who left our midst and fell in the Great War.[4]

Associate schools[edit]

  • St Joseph's Primary School, Milngavie
  • Milngavie Primary School, Milngavie
  • Clober Primary School, Milngavie
  • Craigdhu Primary School, Milngavie
  • Baldernock Primary School, Baldernock

These schools, as associate schools, are the main "feeder" schools for Douglas. This means that, the students who attend these primary schools will then attend Douglas once they begin secondary school.

School badge[edit]

The coat of arms on the school badge combines references to the school's geographical position and to the history of the grounds in which it is situated. It was designed by a student. The upper half, with its cross and roses, is part of the arms of the Burgh of Milngavie, while the lower half shows symbols associated with the Douglas family, owners for many generations of the Mains Estate on which the school stands. By tradition, the heart represents the heart of Bruce, taken by a member of the Douglas family on crusade against the Moors. The Gaelic motto "Neart-Tre-Eolas" means "Strength Through Knowledge".[7]

Debating Society[edit]

Douglas Academy operates a debating team which functions in a wide range of competitions across the country. Mr Steven Sinclair, a year head at Douglas, oversees the debating society and has been active in its proceedings since its beginning. The Academy's debating team continue to be active in the debating scene with various examples following below.

Debating Matters competition[edit]

Douglas Academy has been involved in the debating matters competition over the last few years and has found great fortune in doing so. For example, in 2015, the Academy's team reached the final which was hosted in London's British Library, ultimately becoming runner's up.[8] Overall, Douglas has reached the national finals in this example four times.[9]

Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament[edit]

This competition is one of the largest debating competitions within Scotland. The first round of the 2016/17 tournament in November saw 128 teams enter the competition from 85 different schools. Following two more rounds and the final, held in June, Douglas Academy students Arun Smith and Matthew McIlree were crowned Scotland's winning young debaters. Matthew and Arun defeated teams in the final from The High School of Dundee, Kelvinside Academy and Madras College. The final was held in the debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament and was chaired by the Presiding Officer Ken McIntosh.

English-Speaking Union Scotland[edit]

The English-Speaking Union Junior Debating competition is the biggest of its type in Scotland with over 130 teams entering the competition which begins in the Autumn. Similar to the debating matters competition, the Academy has seen great winnings in this tournament also; winning in three of the last five years.

In 2015, Douglas Academy students Arun Smith and Matthew McIlree, were crowned the English-Speaking Union Scottish Junior Debating champions in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 18 June. The Douglas Academy team was the only state school in Scotland to make it to the final and defeated teams from George Watson's, George Herriot's and Dollar Academy on the evening. Arun and Matthew, arguing from Closing Government, successfully proposed the motion that we should hold a referendum on UK withdrawal from the European Union. Samuel Milne, in S4, also played a key role in the team's success by competing in the first three rounds of the competition.

The final's judges included two leading university debaters, the winner of the English Speaking Union's International Senior Mace Debating Competition, Vice-President Sir Jamie McGrigor Bt MSP, and chairman Dr Ian Duncan MEP.

In 2017, students Chloe Beardsley and Orla Vennard also won the English-Speaking Union Scottish Junior Debating competition in the Scottish Parliament, after defeating teams from Craigmont High School and St Columba's School.

Additional examples include, in 2002 and 2008, teams from Douglas Academy were chosen to represent the United Kingdom at the European Youth Parliament in Turin and Rennes. In 2018 Douglas Academy will, yet again, represent the United Kingdom at the European Youth Parliament in Vilnius, Lithuania. Altogether, this provides an insight into the competitions the Debating Society undertakes, and the level they perform at; to which they do increasingly well as a result.

Douglas Academy Music School[edit]

The Music School of Douglas Academy was established in 1979 as a national centre of excellence. Since this date it has offered the highest quality tuition in all aspects of music. The school provides tuition for pupils of secondary school age in a suite of specialist rooms. Applications for entry are received are known to be received from throughout Scotland and further afield.

The Music School is an integral part of Douglas Academy and the music specialists are fully integrated into the curricular and social life of the school. The purpose of the Music School is to allow specialist musicians to continue their general education, whilst receiving instrumental tuition and additional time for musical study. As well as developing instrumental and vocal skills, it is also the aim of the school to provide a balanced, modern curriculum to enable students to go forward to the college or university course of their choice.

Applications for admission are invited from November of each year, with the closing date being around the end of January. Pupils may apply for entry into any stage of the secondary school curriculum although entry into S1 enables the student to get the most benefit from the available Music School curriculum. If pupils of the Music School do not live near the area, they board in a residence hall situated in the West End of Glasgow.

The pupils of the music school display their talent in many events throughout the school session; a recent notable event being the pupils playing for the 250th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Muir in the Scottish Parliament. Guests included the Former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond MP, and former MSP Fiona McLeod.[10]

The Academy's music school is one of the few music schools situated in Scotland.

International Exchange Programme[edit]

Since 1999, Douglas Academy has maintained an annual exchange between themselves and Lycée Jean Guéhenno in Fougères, Brittany. The exchange offers pupils in S4, 5 and 6 the opportunity to correspond with a French pupil of a similar age and then host him/her for a week in June. The return visit to Fougères is made the following October, when our pupils spend a week with their allocated French pupil and their families.

Senior pupils studying French at Higher or Advanced Higher level can opt to carry out work experience in a French workplace while there.[11]

Notable alumni[edit]

Deputy Leader of the British Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, MP


  1. ^ "School Board Members 2006/7" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 June 2007.
  2. ^ "Top Marks for Douglas Academy in Government League Tables". East Dunbartonshire LEA. Archived from " the original on 6 October 2007. Retrieved 6 June 2007.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ East Dunbartonshire Archives
  6. ^ A Short History of Mains. Bearsden & Milngavie District Libraries.
  7. ^ "Douglas Academy – School Information". Retrieved 6 October 2012.
  8. ^ JOHN NICOLSON [@MrJohnNicolson] (28 June 2015). "Warmest congratulations to Douglas Academy. Runners up at #DMNF15 – and clearly a superb team destined for great things" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  9. ^ Debating Matters [@DebatingMatters] (19 June 2015). "A final countdown to #DMNF15. Good luck to third time National Finalists, Douglas Academy from Milngavie, Scotland" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  10. ^ Alex Salmond [@AlexSalmond] (23 September 2015). "Was at @ScotParl to celebrate 250th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Muir. A great Scot" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Millar, James (6 June 2017). "Can Jo Swinson win back East Dunbartonshire for the Lib Dems?". New Statesman. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  13. ^ "Bearsden cycling ace Katie Archibald on track for 2014 Commonwealth Games". Milngavie Herald. 23 January 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  14. ^ McGilvray, Andy (26 January 2018). "Rangers signing Greg Docherty pays tribute to friend who lost leukaemia battle". Daily Record. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  15. ^ "Robert Harley". Scottish Rugby. Retrieved 4 May 2018.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°56′48″N 4°20′39″W / 55.94667°N 4.34417°W / 55.94667; -4.34417