George Heriot's appoints first woman headteacher in its history

One of Scotland's leading independent schools is set to appoint its first female principal in its 388-year history.

Lesley Franklin, who is currently head of the junior school, takes over as principal. Picture: Chris Watt

George Heriot’s School in Edinburgh will see Lesley Franklin, currently head of the junior school, take over as principal.

Mrs Franklin, who started as a classroom teacher in the junior school in 1995, is also believed to be the first head of a Scottish independent junior school to be promoted to the post of principal,

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The school was founded by George Heriot, a goldsmith and philanthropist, in the early 17th century to provide an education for “fatherless bairns” in Edinburgh.

It is attended by 1,600 pupils from the ages of four to 18 and 155 permanent teaching staff.

Former pupils include 19th century painter Sir Henry Raeburn, Lord Mackay of Clashfern and rugby legend Andy Irvine.

Mrs Franklin, who takes over from Cameron Wyllie when he retires, said: “Having worked here for over 20 years, the school and its community are very close to my heart and becoming principal is a huge honour.

“ I am very conscious of the strong ethos and traditions of Heriot’s and it will be a privilege to serve the school as principal. The selection process was very intensive and took place over a number of weeks.

“I’m looking forward enormously to working with the staff, pupils and the entire Heriot’s community to continue to strengthen our position at the forefront of the Scottish education sector.

“I will be focusing on ensuring our pupils receive the best possible education in a caring, nurturing environment.”

Mrs Franklin attended Lenzie Academy, Glasgow before gaining an honours degree in German at the University of St Andrews. She then studied teaching at the University of Reading.

In addition to her teaching duties, Mrs Franklin has been an associate assessor for Education Scotland since 2008, has coached hockey for more than 20 years and is currently studying for an MSc in HR and business management at Edinburgh Napier University.

Mike Gilbert, chairman of the school’s governors, said: “The level of interest in this position was extremely high, with many strong candidates from throughout the UK and several from overseas.

“Lesley’s appointment follows a thorough, robust and very competitive recruitment process and she was the 
unanimous choice for the position.

“Cameron has made an outstanding contribution to the school over 26 years, and when he retires we now have an excellent successor who will ensure continuity for staff and pupils alike

“Despite the many and varied pressures facing the education sector in Scotland as a whole, it is a testament to Cameron Wyllie and all the staff at Heriot’s that the school is in such a strong position.”