James Gillespie's High School

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James Gillespie's High School
James Gillespie's High School logo.png
Mottoes Fidelis Et Fortis
(Latin: Fidelity and Strength)
Established 1803
Type State school
Headteacher Donald J Macdonald
Founder James Gillespie
Location Lauderdale Street
Local authority Edinburgh City
Staff FTE 81.9 (2006)[1]
Students 1080 (2006)
Gender Mixed
Ages 11–18
Website www.jamesgillespies.edin.sch.uk

James Gillespie's High School is a state secondary school in Marchmont, Edinburgh. The school is a comprehensive high school, educating pupils aged 11 to 18. Its current campus consists primarily of 1960s buildings alongside the 16th century[2] Bruntsfield House. The catchment area is in the centre of the city.[3]

The school's curriculum includes Scottish Gaelic.


In 1803 as a result of the legacy of James Gillespie, an Edinburgh tobacco merchant, a school for 65 students and one master was opened in Bruntsfield Place and administered by the Merchant Company of Edinburgh. In 1870 the school moved into a larger building on the south side of what is now Gillespie Crescent.

As the school developed, girls were admitted as well as boys and the number of students exceeded 1,000.

In 1908 the Edinburgh School Board took over the responsibility for the school from the Merchant Company of Edinburgh Education Board, James Gillespie's legacy having run out many years before.

In 1914 the school moved into the original Boroughmuir School building on Bruntsfield Links, until recently used by Boroughmuir High School as an annex. This was the school attended by the novelist Muriel Spark who based the main character in her 1961 novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie on one of her teachers, Christina Kay.

In 1935 Edinburgh Corporation acquired[citation needed] Bruntsfield House and its grounds from the Warrender family.

The building of the school in Lauderdale Street commenced in 1964 and was completed in 1966. The school became a secondary school for 800 girls. This added three teaching blocks, a separate library, swimming pool and gymnasium to the original Bruntsfield House building.

In 1973 the school became a co-educational comprehensive school, taking in boys and girls. [4]

In 1978 ownership of the school was taken over by Edinburgh District council, the school uniform became optional. At this time the school also started to use an annex at 7 Gillespie Street to cope with a rising intake.

In 1989 the school moved to one site on the completion of an extensive building and modernisation programme.[5] Formerly the High School divided the student population into four 'houses' - Warrender, Roslin, Spylaw, and Gilmore. The houses would compete in intramural sports events, etc. The house system lasted into the early 1980s. Since then the buildings of the High School campus adopted the names of the houses with the addition of a new name, Bruntsfield. Each of the house (now building) names reflects a connection to the name of a locality in, or a historic family from, south Edinburgh.

In 2005 the school adopted 3 new 'social communities' (like the house system but without competitions, only for arranging social guidance) based on James Clerk Maxwell (Maxwell) Henry Raeburn (Raeburn) and Aung San Suu Kyi (Kyi.) [6]

In 2007 improvements were made to the fabric of the school's buildings after a state inspection found significant deficiencies in several of the 1966 structures. There was a campaign to build a new school.[7] Following consultation with parents, students, staff and the wider community a new school has begun to be built on the existing site.[8]

In July 2013 work started to replace all the school buildings apart from Bruntsfield House which is a listed building.


Every former pupil (completing more than 4 years of schooling) and member of staff of James Gillespies High School is granted the honorific title Old Gille Easbaig (OG).[9] Gillespie being the Anglicised form of the Gaelic Gille Easbaig, meaning "servant of the bishop".


  1. ^ Scottish Schools Online: JGHS. Retrieved 5 May 2008
  2. ^ http://www.scran.ac.uk/database/record.php?usi=000-000-127-516-C Retrieved 28 October 2008
  3. ^ JGHS Catchment - Edinburgh Council. Retrieved 5 May 2008
  4. ^ JGHS Our School. Retrieved 26 Jan 2014
  5. ^ JGHS Our School. Retrieved 5 May 2008
  6. ^ "Message from the Head Teacher - August 2005" (PDF). http://www.jghs.edin.sch.uk. 
  7. ^ Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 5 May 2008
  8. ^ "BBC News - Work starts on new James Gillespie's High School in Edinburgh". BBC Online. 11 December 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  9. ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_post-nominal_letters_(United_Kingdom)#Secondary_Education

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°56′12.20″N 3°12′1.62″W / 55.9367222°N 3.2004500°W / 55.9367222; -3.2004500