James Gillespie's High School

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James Gillespie's High School
James Gillespie's High School logo.png

Fidelis Et Fortis
(Latin: Faithful and Brave)

We Value the Diversity that exists
Established 1803
Type State school
Headteacher Donald McDonald
Founder James Gillespie
Location Lauderdale Street
Local authority Edinburgh City
Staff FTE 86.5 (2016)[1]
Students 1210 (2016)
Gender Mixed
Ages 11–18
Website jamesgillespies.co.uk

James Gillespie's High School is a state-funded secondary school in Marchmont, Edinburgh, Scotland. It is a comprehensive high school, educating pupils between the ages of 11 and 18, situated at the centre of Edinburgh. Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace are within the catchment area of James Gillespie's High School.[2]

The school uses the Scottish Gaelic curriculum.


James Gillespie's High School was founded in Bruntsfield Place in 1803 as a result of the legacy of James Gillespie, an Edinburgh tobacco merchant, and was administered by the Merchant Company of Edinburgh. The first class consisted of 65 students and one master. In 1870, the school moved into a larger building on the south side of what is now Gillespie Crescent. The number of students at the school would later exceed 1,000 and include female students.

In 1908, the Edinburgh School Board took responsibility for this school from the Merchant Company of Edinburgh Education Board.

In 1914, the school moved into the original Boroughmuir School building on Bruntsfield Links, which was previously used by Boroughmuir High School as an annex. The novelist Muriel Spark attended James Gillespie's High School from 1923-1935. She based the main character of her 1961 novel 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' on one of her teachers, Christina Kay.

In 1935, Edinburgh Corporation acquired Bruntsfield House and its grounds from the Warrender family.[3]

The construction of the school on Lauderdale Street began in 1964 and was completed in 1966. The school became a secondary school for 800 girls. The project added three teaching blocks, a separate library, a swimming pool, and a 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, and school uniforms became optional. At this time, the school also started to use an annex at 7 Gillespie Street to cope with the rising intake.

In 1989, the school moved to one site at the completion of an extensive building and modernization program.[4] Prior to the move, 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, buildings on the high school campus have adopted the house names along with the addition of a new name, Bruntsfield. Each of the building names reflects a connection to the name of a locality in, or a historic family from, South Edinburgh.

In 2005, the school adopted three new 'social communities' (similar to the house system but without competitions and only for arranging social guidance) based on James Clerk Maxwell (Maxwell) Henry Raeburn (Raeburn) and Aung San Suu Kyi (Kyi.)[5]

In 2007, improvements were made to the school buildings after a state inspection found significant deficiencies in several of the 1966 structures. There was a campaign to build a new school.[6] Following consultation with parents, students, staff, and the wider community, building of a new school began on the existing site in December 2013. The estimated completion date was summer 2016.[7]

In July 2013, work started to replace all of the school buildings apart from the Bruntsfield House, which is a listed building. The campus was completed in August 2016 and was officially opened by John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister, on 26 October 2016. As of October 2016, it is composed of four buildings: the Bruntsfield House, the Malala Teaching Block, the Muriel Spark Performing Arts Building, and the Eric Liddell Sports Building.



  1. ^ "Scottish Schools Online: JGHS". Archived from the original on 2006-05-26. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  2. ^ "JGHS Catchment - Edinburgh Council" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-05-08. [permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Edinburgh, 57 Lauderdale Street, Bruntisfield House". Canmore. Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  4. ^ a b "Our School". Jamesgillespies.edin.sch.uk. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Message from the Head Teacher - August 2005" (PDF). [dead link]
  6. ^ Rose, Gareth (2006-06-12). "£100m plan to upgrade five schools in Capital unveiled". Edinburgh Evening News. Archived from the original on 2011-06-15. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  7. ^ "BBC News - Work starts on new James Gillespie's High School in Edinburgh". BBC Online. 11 December 2013. Archived from the original on 2016-05-27. Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  8. ^ "Ronnie Corbett, best known for The Two Ronnies, dies aged 85". BBC News. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  9. ^ "Rio Olympics 2016: Callum Skinner joy at 'amazing' cycling gold". BBC Sport. 2016-08-12. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 

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