Bright World Buddy, Eileen Kingsland gives us a taste of student life at Glenalmond College during this year's Open Day.
The open day, which ran from 9am to 3pm on Saturday 10th September 2016, was designed to provide an introduction to the school which is located in the heart of the Perthshire countryside in Scotland.
The programme for the day began with the Warden’s talk. Glenalmond Head Teacher, Elaine Logan (pictured left), is known as the Warden and she explained the tradition behind her College title, as it means the Head Teacher is ‘watching over’, reflecting the ethos of the school which is one of nurturing and developing aspiration and talent in every student. The Warden explained the code of conduct as being ‘straightforward’ where pupils are expected to ‘work hard and be courteous’. Mrs Logan emphasised the fact that academic rigour is the school’s top priority and highlighted the academic success of the school. A recent Independent Schools Table in the Telegraph newspaper rated Glenalmond College as the highest ranked co-education school at GCSE Level in Scotland.
Four pupils of varying ages then addressed the audience about their personal experiences as part of the Glenalmond community and what it is like to live and study at the school. Members of the audience were invited to put questions to the pupils and Warden and it became clear one of the issues for parents surrounds how schools manage social media in a school environment. The Warden explained the school social media policy and that mobile phones are handed in at the end of each day; one of the pupils informed us that the internet is switched off at night time. It is only fairly recently that a fibre optics cable and mobile phone mast were erected nearby; this has improved communications within the school, thereby ensuring modern technology is accessible to everyone in this rural location.
The audience were divided into small groups and taken on a tour of the school buildings and grounds in the company of pupils. Key areas such as the science centre, music school, chapel and library were visited. The school has a strong Christian ethos and pupils attend chapel every morning for the 10 minute gathering, during which pupils take it in turn to give bible readings and the chaplain gives his ‘thoughts for the day’, encouraging pupils to reflect on their coming day. Sundays are when the full church service takes place and there is stiff completion amongst the school choral groups as to who sings the best hymns!
The library is laid out in a building at the centre of the ‘quad’ which is at the heart of the school buildings. Younger pupils use the ground floor and senior the upper floor where there is ample study area and access to communal computers. Recreation facilities include a 9-hole (18 tee) golf course, 6 rugby fields, 2 all-weather surfaces, 4 cricket pitches, lacrosse pitches, squash and tennis courts, as well as indoor and outdoor shooting range. The Sports Complex houses a 25 metre swimming pool, gymnasium, weights room and sports hall. Sailing takes place on Loch Earn and kayaking on the River Tay. There is also a purpose designed drama theatre, ‘Aroma’ coffee shop with social space and dedicated 6th Form common room staffed by teachers. The school prides itself on the good food served and this was heartily endorsed by the pupils I spoke to. The school serves food on a ‘staggered’ system as there are 380 pupils all to be seated for lunch. There are microwaves and other facilities within each boarding house for pupils to make snacks.
Careers advice is offered in school and there is a dedicated careers office as well as support offered by ‘Old Glenalmond’ pupils who regularly give lectures and support to any pupil seeking inspiration. In September 2017 the new Junior House called Cairnies will open; initially for boys aged 12+ and 13+. There are plans to expand this to become fully co-educational at a later date. A new girls’ boarding house is being created in the heart of the school and this too will be operational in September 2017. The aim of this development is to increase the number of girls at Glenalmond resulting in a total of 3 girls’ boarding houses. The school is predominantly full time boarding and has only 50 day pupils. But these pupils have the opportunity to participate in some boarding as agreed with the school and to meet the needs of the pupils’ full academic and sporting activities. Girls share rooms with one another and by the time they get to sixth form, they are offered private study rooms (as are the boys). One of the girls told me that as they develop strong friendship bonds, they sometimes prefer to share a room even at sixth form!
A recital was given in the music school with a range of talent on display from the pupils including individual performances from a violinist, harpist, pianist, clarinettist, saxophonist, singer and trumpet player. It has to be said that the outstanding performances from these young people, along with the school’s Pipe band, were enjoyed by everyone. Drop-in sessions were available for visitors to see lessons in action in subjects such as History and Chemistry. The pupil’s work was on display in the art departments and teaching staff were available to discuss any issues raised. After a buffet lunch, held in the marquee, hockey and rugby matches against Fettes College (an Edinburgh based school) took place on the sports fields.
Written by Bright World Buddy, Eileen Kingsland (pictured left)