Patrick Callaghan’s ties with St Andrew’s High School run deep.
The current headteacher is a former pupil – and has the honour of being at the helm as it celebrates its 60th anniversary.
The landmark anniversary falls on December 14, and it is the perfect opportunity to reflect on its many successes, and the impact it has had on the community.
St Andrew’s serves a wide catchment area from Burntisland to Lochgelly, from Levenmouth to St Andrews and from Cupar to Glenrothes and Kirkcaldy.
Its classrooms are home to many faiths, but the majority of pupils come from its associated Catholic primaries – St Columba’s in Cupar, St Marie’s in Kirkcaldy, St Agatha’s in Leven, St Paul’s in Glenrothes, St Patrick’s in Lochgelly, St Ninian’s in Cardenden and Greyfriars in St Andrews.
And the headteacher knows exactly what it is like for every new pupil to step through its doors for the very first time.
More old pictures: St Andrew’s High School - 60 years of education
He attended between 1981-1987, and recalled: “I distinctly remember my Friday timetable as a first year pupil was maths, English, maths, geography, German, RE, German and double art.
“I also remember having registration in one of the not so temporary huts to the rear of the main school building – freezing in the winter months but if you got to the heater first you were sorted for the first ten minutes of your school day.”
Back then timetables were written in chalk on the board and at the start of the year which pupils copied three times – “two you kept and the third you handed into the school office so they could find you at any point in the school day.”
“Leisure was great on a Wednesday afternoon where you could choose a number of activities that interested you – sports, board games, drama. Even as a first year there were many opportunities for pupils to be involved in school life. I remember ending up on stage as a butler in a “Whodunnit?” style drama written by two S6 pupils – one of whom is now a teacher at our school today!”
But while there have been many changes to courses and exams – from O Grades, Alternative O Grades, Highers, Revised Highers and Standard Grades – Mr Callaghan believes the present National exams give all pupils every opportunity to achieve to the best of their individual abilities.
“We have increasing links with businesses across Fife through our ‘Developing The Young Workforce’ programme and additional opportunities for our young people, including Duke Of Edinburgh, First Chances; giving our pupils an early insight into university life, the John Muir Environmental Award and the increasingly popular Rural and Urban Training Scheme (RUTS) bike and motorcycle maintenance programme, to name but a few.
“In the Spring of 2000, we opened an excellent sports hall. A new teaching block at the front of the school was opened in 2004.
“A further excellent addition was made with the opening of the extension to the rear in 2009 which included ICT provision and, in 2014, a new dance studio was created. The school dinner hall received a major upgrade in 2015 and work has recently been completed by pupils and the support of SRUC (Elmwood Campus) to improve the grounds outside the assembly hall. Further necessary expansion of ICT facilities took place during 2016 and 2017 and we now have full wifi access across our school with our ‘Bring Your Own Device Policy’ implemented in 2018.”
That continual programme of development and improvement is driven by a host of staff – from teachers to janitors, technicians, dinner ladies and cleaners, library staff and a team of administration and clerical staff.
Mr Callaghan added: “Today, as 6o years ago, we continue to do our very best to meet all our learners’ needs and offer as wide and interesting a curriculum as we can.
“Whatever changes come over the years in education, new policies, procedures, finances and examinations for St Andrew’s it is very much the people who are at the heart of the school who make all the difference – I am honoured and privileged to work with such a dedicated staff who give so much so our pupils enjoy their lessons and attain and achieve the very best they can.
“Our staff give so generously of their time in order to give our young people opportunities which many would otherwise never experience.
“Our pupils too, in the main, embrace our school values of respect, confidence, happiness and ambition and do us as a school and their parents/carers proud in their commitment to their studies and wider life of the school.”
The 60th anniversary will be marked with a small memento to each pupil and staff member, and the school has asked for a special blessing to be sent from His Holiness Pope Francis.
It should arrive on special parchment in the New Year.
“With many happy memories and successes for our community of faith and learning past and present we look forward to the future and the further opportunities for all associated with St Andrew’s,” said Mr Callaghan.