Little did I know when I started as an S1 pupil at North Berwick High School in August 1973 that forty years later I would be leading the school as its Head Teacher. Though many things at NBHS – and in education in general – have changed in those forty years, it seems to me that the important things haven’t changed at all. We still value strong, warm relationships between all in the school community; we still aim high for all our pupils in their academic attainment; we still provide a huge variety of opportunities for wider achievement; and we still have school leavers who appreciate what the school has given them, and who are proud to be former pupils of North Berwick High School. So how did that little first year girl become the school leader tasked with carrying on the NBHS legacy? 

After six very happy years at NBHS, I went to Aberdeen University to study English. It was a joy to spend four years studying what I was passionate about – literature and language. In particular, I loved reading Scottish texts and studying the Scots language, and I loved poetry. To this day, I always have a poetry book on the go, as well as whatever else I am reading.  

When I left university, I had just one ambition: to become a mother. My three children were all born south of the border, as my husband’s work took us first to Kent and then to Lancashire. It was in Lancashire that I first became fascinated by how children learn, through watching my own children’s early attempts at reading and through volunteering as a parent helper at their primary school. When I became a school governor there, my interest widened to include more general education issues and I decided to train as a teacher myself. Having completed my teacher training year at university in Manchester, our family moved back to East Lothian and I began working at St Margaret’s School in Edinburgh, where I eventually became Head of English. In my latter years at St Margaret’s, I undertook the Scottish Qualification for Headship at Edinburgh University and began looking for a post in senior management. After eleven years’ teaching in the independent sector, I was keen to make the move into the state system and I was thrilled to be appointed as Depute Head Teacher at my old school in 2006 and then, seven years later, to take on the role of Head Teacher. 

A Head Teacher’s job can be all-consuming, so it’s important for me to make time for family and friends – as well as walking on the hills and beaches of East Lothian (especially Gullane beach), gardening, going to the theatre, and reading. I also love travelling in school holidays: California, especially Yosemite, is my favourite holiday destination. Closer to home, I am able to put something back into my local community as a trustee of the Scottish Seabird Centre; a committee member of North Berwick Burns Club; and a trustee of North Berwick Trust. I am also on the executive committee of my professional organisation, School Leaders Scotland. 

I love North Berwick High School: the history and traditions; the people; the inclusive ethos; the forward-thinking, aspirational outlook; the sense of curiosity and the love of learning; and, so often, the laughter and fun. It’s a huge honour for me to be the Head Teacher of this wonderful school.