Harlaw Academy

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Harlaw Academy
Motto by Learning
Established 1874 (current location 1893)
Type Secondary School
Headteacher David Innes
Deputy Headteacher Mrs Rennie, Mrs Hunter, Mrs Douglas, Mr Blance
Location 18-20 Albyn Place
AB10 1RG
Coordinates: 57°08′32″N 2°07′00″W / 57.142222°N 2.116667°W / 57.142222; -2.116667
Local authority Aberdeen City Council
Staff 85 (approx)
Students 950 (approx)
Gender Mixed
Ages 11–18
Houses Albyn, Carden, Holburn, Victoria, Waverely
Colours Navy blue, Silver, Maroon
School years S1-S6

Harlaw Academy is a six-year comprehensive secondary school situated 200 yards from the junction of Union Street and Holburn Street in the centre of Aberdeen, Scotland. It is directly adjacent to St Margaret's School for Girls. The academy draws most of its pupils from its associated primary schools, namely, Broomhill Primary School, Ferryhill Primary School and Kaimhill Primary School. David Innes has been headteacher since January 2013.

It was founded as the Aberdeen High School for Girls in 1874. The first school building was raised at Little Belmont Street.[1] The first building at 19 Albyn Place was designed by Archibald Simpson, a prominent architect of the late 19th century. Harlaw used to have a primary department but it was phased out and the last primary pupils moved up in 1971. Harlaw become co-educational in 1974.


The school began in 1874 in the buildings in Little Belmont Street that had been known as the Town Schools,[1] later the English School. It was an elementary school received government grants, but there was an understanding that its status would be altered if the demand for higher education should warrant it. In practice its secondary work started in 1878 and in March 1881 the School Board, by a resolution in terms of the Education (Scotland) Act of 1872, declared the school a Higher-Class School. Its name was changed from the English School to the Aberdeen High School for Girls.

In 1891 Mrs. Elmslie's Institution at 19 Albyn Place was bought for the school. This house was built by Archibald Simpson. After alteration to the interior the school moved there in 1893. As the school grew, extensions were made. 18 Albyn Place was acquired in 1920 and after a destructive fire in 1935 major reconstructions were planned. These were completed after the Second World War. This work was undertaken by J.A.O. Allan and D.J.A. Ross for the Corporation of Aberdeen.

The Former Pupils' Club established a fund for the acquisition of a playing field, and a sum was raised to help to build and equip the pavilion at the Playing Field at Hazlehead.

From 1874 until 1912 John McBain, M.A., was headmaster of the school. He was succeeded by L.L. Ward, B.A., who had been Lady Elf of the School since 1894. By 1929, when Ward retired, the size of the school had increased considerably. Her successor, B.M. Rose, M.A., L.L.D., led the school through Second World War, the rebuilding programme, and the changes that came with the abolition of fees in 1947. When she retired in 1954 the school had over 1,000 pupils and a steadily increasing number of girls from First to Fourth Year were going on to university, colleges and other institutions for further education.

Rose was succeeded by M. McNab, M.A., whose years of office saw great changes in organisation, two of which were radical. One was the phasing out of the primary department, which ceased to exist at the end of Session 1970-71, with an accompanying gradual increase in the number of secondary pupils. The other arose from the planning of the city's area comprehensive system which brought about in 1970 the changing of the school's name to Harlaw Academy and the first unselective entry, of girls only, from four neighbouring primary schools. On McNab's retirement in July 1971, Alexander Chalmers, B.Sc., became Headmaster and early in the new session plans began to be made for Ruthrieston Secondary School to become part of Harlaw Academy the following session, ceasing to be a separate entity on the retiral of Mr. Garden on 24 November 1972.

Ruthrieston Secondary School was the oldest of its type in Aberdeen, having become a school solely for post-primary pupils in 1922. It had been established as an all-age village school in the 19th century. Until 1954 only a three-year course was provided; thereafter fourth-year pupils were presented for appropriate examinations and, after 1962, for the S.C.E. Ordinary Grade examinations, with opportunity for the S.C.E Higher Grade examinations to be studied at one of the Grammar Schools or Senior Secondary Schools.

By 1973 the total school roll was over 1,750 making it the largest school in Aberdeen. Since the incorporation of Ruthrieston Secondary School, Harlaw Academy was now a co-educational, comprehensive secondary school. Chalmers was succeeded in 1985 by Norman Horne, followed by John Murray in 1993. As of 2009, the total school roll stands at just over 950 pupils.

In 2010, Harlaw Academy was threatened with closure, as part of the Aberdeen City Council's cutbacks of over £50m worth of debt. This created an uproar in the feeder communities who launched a successful campaign to save the school.[2] On 29 October 2011 at a consultation in the council chamber, the reasons for closing the secondary school were declared unjustifiable - and as a result the school avoided being closed.

Head teachers[edit]

Past and present head teachers include:

  • John McBain 1874-1913
  • Lucy Ward 1913-1929
  • Beatrice Rose 1929-1957
  • Margaretta McNab 1957-1971
  • Alexander Chalmers 1971-1985
  • Norman Horne 1985-1993
  • John Murray 1993– 2012(OCT)
  • David Innes (2012–Present)[3]

Notable former pupils[edit]

Notable alumni include:


  1. ^ a b "DServe Archive Catalog Show". archives.aberdeencity.gov.uk. Retrieved 14 January 2017. 
  2. ^ http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1969882
  3. ^ "Staff List". harlawacademy.aberdeen.sch.uk. Retrieved 14 January 2017. 
  4. ^ "Annie Lennox gives old reports to former school". theguardian.com. Retrieved 14 January 2017. 
  5. ^ Steel, David (8 May 2008). "Baroness Michie of Gallanach". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 January 2017. 
  6. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0237520/


External links[edit]