Douglas Academy

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Douglas Academy
Douglas Academy Badge 2.png
Motto Neart Tre Eolas - Scottish Gaelic (Strength Through Knowledge)
Established 1967
Type State secondary school
Headteacher Barry Smedley (B.Ed)
Chair of the School Board Ramsay Shields[1]
Location Mains Estate
Milngavie
East Dunbartonshire
G62 7HL
Scotland, United Kingdom
Staff c. 100
Students 993 (Session 2015-2016)
Gender Co-educational
Ages 11–18
Website Official site

Douglas Academy is a non-denominational, co-educational, comprehensive secondary school serving the Milngavie, Craigton and Baldernock areas. In 2007 Douglas Academy was Scotland's top performing state school with 31% of students gaining five or more highers,[2] and with every year the school continues to rank among the highest in the country.[3][4]

History[edit]

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.[5]

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 (136,000 m2) of the estate (including the house) was sold to Dunbartonshire county[6] 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.[7]

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.

These, for example, include a wide and easily utilised school car park and drop off zone; a large 3G pitch which can be used for recreational and competitive use. Surrounding the school are comprehensive hockey pitches; rugby pitches; and inclusive seating areas for the students that compliment the impressive and sleek school building.

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

Surrounding area[edit]

Milngavie town centre

The school is flanked by the highly sought after 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 cooperation 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.[5]

Associate schools[edit]

  • St Josephs Primary School, Milngavie
  • Milngavie Primary School, Milngavie
  • Clober Primary School, Milngavie
  • Craigdhu Primary School, Milngavie
  • Baldernock Primary School, Baldernock


Note: These schools are the main feeder schools for Douglas, yet the school remains open to enquiry for slots that potential pupils could fill from outwith the area.

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".[8]

School dress code[edit]

In Douglas Academy, the school dress code has an important role to play in supporting the school ethos and developing a greater sense of community; the avoidance of discrimination, and aiding the school's security. The School dress should be practical and fit for purpose and is implemented effectively with the strong backing of staff, parents/carers and pupils.

Parents/carers may contact the school at any time for support and reassurance if pupils show reluctance to wear our school dress code.

Currently, Douglas Academy only imposes school blazers on students of the sixth year (S6). However, as the policy is coherent in many other secondary schools in the East Dunbartonshire area, the school has launched consultation into this matter, and is currently reviewing the possibility of dress code amendment for the imposition of blazers for all years. Although, Douglas Academy supports pupils from S1-S5 who purchase and wear a school blazer regardless, which can be done through conference with the school staff.

S1–S5[edit]

  • Black trousers or skirt (no shorts, leggings or denim material)
  • White school shirt with collar and school tie
  • Plain black socks or tights
  • Plain black cardigan, pullover or sweatshirt
  • Plain black shoes
  • Plain black jacket
  • Zipped, hooded, weatherproof jacket with school crest (optional)

S6[edit]

As above with:

  • Black school blazer with school badge
  • S6 school tie

Physical Education (PE)[edit]

  • Plain black shorts or tracksuit bottoms
  • Plain white, short-sleeved T-shirt or polo shirt
  • White socks

Captaincy and Prefect Body[edit]

Upon every school session, a Captaincy and Prefect body are decided from the current S6 students. According to which process is involved, Douglas Academy's teachers, Senior Management Team (SMT), and students will meticulously examine and select the Captaincy and Prefect body. This unit is tasked with many duties, most notably, the carrying out of a school volunteering quota which allows for many comprehensive school clubs and extra curricular activities to be undertaken. They are actively involved in the management of parent evenings in the school, and other such conference evenings that take place.

The actions of the Captaincy and Prefect Body directly benefit the school, providing opportunities for students of junior years, but also aiding members of staff in their roles at the school; according a great experience to draw on upon leaving the Academy.

Captaincy selection process[edit]

In order to become a member of the Captaincy Team, the S6 student must fill out a selection form and provide it to the S6 year head to collect. Then, the voting takes place: all the teachers, including the Senior Management Team (SMT), cast a vote for their preferred Head Boy and Head Girl from the existing pool. Alongside this, the S6 students also vote for their selection.

The list of candidates will thus be narrowed down to three applicants for each gender. Then the interview stage begins, which includes two SMT members and one member of the staff faculty of the school; designed for anonymity and for further impartiality.

The session's Head Boy and Head Girl are chosen from the six; with the four others automatically becoming Vice-Captains. The two chosen will have their names inscribed onto a plaque located in the school's assembly hall for ceremonial purposes.

Prefect selection process[edit]

The Prefect process is different from the Captaincy in the sense that forms are handed to the S6 year head who personally appoints the Prefect team. Applicants will have to coordinate an interview with the S6 year head. However, it's more of a brief; taking into account the tasks of a Prefect, and which personal duties that potential Prefect will undertake in their own time.

While there are limited places available on the Captaincy Team, and arguably a more rigorous process of selection, there is no limit on the amount of Prefects the Academy can have. Simply, the decision is based on the enthusiasm and merit of the pupil putting forward their candidacy. For example, participation or creation of a school club is taken into consideration for this post.

Debating Society[edit]

Douglas Academy takes great pride in their debating team which functions in a wide range of competitions across the country. The society is full of gregarious members that are eager to tackle every competition assigned to them. 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 dominate 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.[9] Overall, Douglas has reached the national finals in this example 3 times.[10]

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 two of the last three years.

In 2015, Douglas Academy pupils 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.

Older yet still relevant 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. However, 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.[11]

The Academy's music school is one of the few music schools situated in Scotland. The current course director is Mark Evans.

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.[12]

This process can be very meritorious for the students involved as it allows them to step outside their comfort zones; correspond with other French students that they could hold contact with for the rest of their lives; providing invaluable experience about foreign countries, travelling, and potentially: work experience.

Notable alumni[edit]

Jo Swinson.jpg
An example: Former MP Jo Swinson

References[edit]

External links[edit]

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