“If I can come from a hard working Dundee family and become a head teacher, then young people from any part of Scotland can achieve and do well.”
The inspirational message comes from Grant Whytock who has steered Buckhaven High School for 19 years as head teacher and on the eve of the closing of the school takes an opportunity to reflect on his time at the top.
Emotions are high as the doors finally shut on the school which he marks being Rector of as his greatest achievement
“I personally feel sad that the journey I started 19 years ago is coming to an end.
“However, mixed in with that is a sense of quiet satisfaction that as we close, we are ready to move on to a new era in a good position and continue improving the Educational Experience offered to the young people of Levenmouth.
With dreams at 17 of flying high, Grant altered his course away from his becoming a pilot after completeing his St Andrews University degree and headed straight into education.
“I was destined to be a pilot and at school I was a member of Air Training Corps and learned to fly when I was 17,” Grant explained. “However, I found the long spells waiting around for flying training a bit dull and did teacher training at Dundee College of Education.”
It was a decision that Grant has not looked back on: “Working in a secondary school is the best job in the world.”
“As head teacher it has been a privilege to work with the staff at Buckhaven who are the hardest working I have ever met, the young people, who are proud of their school, and the local community, who have given is so much support. They all made my job an easier one.”
Although there have been countless occasions over the years that Grant is proud of his memorable moments show his true passion for student development as he champions the children’s achievements, which include reaching the National Sports Finals at football and rugby, the talent exhibited by students of art, drama and music, the variety of trips at home and abroad and the successes of many pupils. “There are many more I could mention but these ones I’ll always remember.”
Leadership challenges and Grant admits that changes in the education system over recent years have thrown up tests particularly with making money each year. He said: “But we have done well here. Keeping everyone happy and getting the best out of everyone is the challenge all leaders face and I’d like to think I have done this quite well.”
As the school prepares to merge with Kirkland to form mega school Levenmouth High, Grant admits that there are mixed emotions.
“I think the community feel the same,” he said. “Many have said so at many of our closure events. The open day, the Showcase and the final awards ceremony have all been events where former pupils have taken the time to share memories of the school.
“However, over the last 10 years the school has been on an improving journey and particularly over the last three years. With the introduction of Curriculum for Excellence there has been a marked improvement in many areas. Our young people leave with better qualifications, more wider achievements and move into more positive destinations.
“The opportunities for all young people to succeed are there. They just have to take them.”