Independent Schools Guide: Pupils taking pride of place

We invited select schools around the country to report on their recent academic and extra-curricular activities.

Fairtrade chocolate and a Highland treat

Pupils at Dunedin School in Edinburgh learned all about chocolate when they visited the Chocolatarium in the Capital.

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As part of Fairtrade Fortnight, the youngsters discovered where chocolate comes from and how it is made, as well as trying their own hand at making the confectionery.

Roaring success: pupils at The Compass School in Haddington put on a splendid performance of The Lion King over the summer
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They explored how we can impact positively on the lives of others around the world through our consumer choices.

Dunedin boys and girls also embarked on a whole-school residential camp to Glencoe, the first such visit since the pandemic hit in early 2020.

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They made up for lost time as they jumped, plunged,climbed, tubed and skimmed stones around the very sunny, warm environs of Glencoe and Kinlochleven.

Pupils tried out things they never thought they would, and enjoyed every bit of the experience.

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St Leonard's pupils receive record-breaking exam results.

Making radio waves and hitting a-list highs

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Students at Fettes College in Edinburgh, have become budding presenters and producers, broadcasting half-termly shows over Fettes Radio airwaves.

The creatives plan to produce more regular content over the next academic year and have been learning the ropes on the production desks, including how to provide a “bed” of background music for their show items, volume and microphone control, and how to load tracks into their system.

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Meanwhile, Fettes students have achieved record-breaking results for the college’s A-level class of 2022, with22 per cent of all grades awarded at A*.

Bags of fun at St Leonards
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In addition, 49 per cent of grades achieved were at A*/A, with 72 per cent scoring A*- B grades and 82 per cent of Extended Project Qualification submissions returning either an A* or A.

Piping hot achievements and a competitive STEM showcase

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After no-shows for the last two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Pipes & Drums of George Watson’s College in Edinburgh competed at the highest level in the World Pipe Band Championships held at Glasgow Green on 12-13 August.

The Juvenile band secured second place, and the Novice Juvenile A band fourth place, in their respective grades.

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High School of Dundee champs

And S1 pupils at the college, Edinburgh, took part in a STEM Showcase event.

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A judging panel assessed 100 entrants across ten categories, from Earth and environment, to physics and astronomy.

Each team put on displays and tested their models in the school gym hall, following eight weeks of hard work.

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The winner will be announced soon.

Champion of champions and a beaver breakthrough

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The High School of Dundee’s Pipe Band won the Novice Juvenile B title at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow last month, with the drum corps being crowned the Champion of Champions. It capped an amazing season that also saw the talented band lift both the British and European Championships.

In an individual triumph, the school’s Haoqi Liu has been announced as the winner of the Junior category in the Beaver Challenge, an Oxford University-organised problem-solving contest that introduces pupils to computer science. Some 83,500 pupils took part in the first round of the event and just 20 qualified for the final – with Haoqi winning through, having achieved the best mark.

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Exam excellence and major new investment

Morrison’s Academy pupils in Crieff, Perthshire, were congratulated on their SQA exam success this year. The school’s Advanced Higher entrants saw a 98 per cent pass rate, with 95 per cent at both Higher and National 5.

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Rector Andrew J McGarva said: “Our exam year pupils have lived up to our motto – Ad Summa Tendendum, to strive for the highest – and I wish to congratulate them on what they have achieved.”

This summer saw major campus investment at Morrison’s, transforming building exteriors, upgrading science labs, plus installing a music tech room and two new primary playgrounds.

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It follows a rolling development plan, which has seen a new artificial hockey pitch, a strength and conditioning suite, a scholars library, STEM hub and cafe installed at the school.

In-person examinations and chemistry Cluedo

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Pupils at St George’s School in Edinburgh sat their first public exams at Higher and Advanced Higher level, following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.

More than a quarter of Upper 6 leavers achieved straight-A grades in their Advanced Higher qualifications, while30 per cent of Higher candidates made straight-As.

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Lower 4 pupils at the school took part in the Scottish Council of Independent Schools’ Alternative Salters Festival of Chemistry at Heriot-Watt University in the Capital over the summer.

They visited science labs, carried out experiments and played “Chemistry Cluedo”, in which they investigated a murder by uncovering the chemical reactions that implicated the culprit.

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Bagging a golf design award and a record-breaking Year 13

A St Leonards School pupil won a competition held by Callaway and the St Andrews Links Trust to design the tour bag carried by golf pros at the 150th Open Championship.

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Sixth form pupil Iona Turner was selected from more than 65 entries by top golfers, including Min Woo Lee, Henrik Stenson and Danny Willett.

Meanwhile, Year 13 pupils at the school received a record-breaking set of International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme and Career-related Programme results.

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This year’s average score for the Diploma Programme is an all-time high of 36 points, with around a quarter of leavers scoring 40 points or more, placing them in the top 7 per cent of candidates across the globe.

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Academic entrepreneurs from Scots universities to compete for £300,000 prize pot
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Musical youth and UN Rights Respecting School status

After a break of three years, children at The Compass School in Haddington had the opportunity to present their summer musicals to live audiences.

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The youngest children gave a lively performance of Go Fish, while older pupils performed Disney’s The Lion King to a warm audience, who all admired the colour, spectacle and magic of the children’s performances.

In other news, the Haddington primary has been awarded Gold status as a UN Rights Respecting School, in recognition of the values of respect and the support of others to which the place of learning aspires.

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The award reflects The Compass’ commitment to ensuring that its children enjoy the very best of personal and educational experiences during their time at the school.

Collective and individual charitable efforts pay off

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Sixth Year students at Wellington School in Ayr elected the Beatson Cancer as their nominated good cause for 2022/23.

It was an especially personal choice for several pupils who have direct knowledge of the facility’s vital work.

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Through many fundraising activities, the senior school students achieved the fantastic sum of more than £22,000.

And, last month, former Wellington pupil Megan Short raised more than £1,100 on a sponsored 11-day trek to Everest Base Camp. On day eight, she reached an altitude of 5,364m in an effort to do something she never thought she could. The money will be used to support children’s charity CHAS.