Balwearie High School

Balwearie High School is situated at the west end of Kirkcaldy in Scotland. Balwearie is a non-denominational comprehensive secondary school which caters for around 1700 pupils aged from 12 to 18, and includes a Department of Special Education for children with Special Educational Needs.

The school's catchment area covers Kirkcaldy West, Kinghorn, Burntisland, and Auchtertool. However, pupils who live outside this catchment area can request to attend Balwearie by asking the Education Board.

History and Facilities

Previously a junior secondary, the school was opened as a comprehensive in 1972. Set in spacious grounds, it originally comprised of two blocks, named C Block and T Block. A few years later the J block was added, housing a library, maths, geography, science, technical and computing classrooms. This is linked to C Block via a bridge corridor going through L Block. There are also detached "hut" units housing a small number of classrooms. The school has two cafeterias, the L Block one being used by 1st, 2nd and 6th Year Pupils; the C Block one being used by 3rd, 4th and 5th Year Pupils.

Sporting Facilities include:

  • a wooden floored gymnasium with gymnastic equipment
  • a gym with weight training facilities
  • a swimming pool
  • an indoor games area
  • 2 squash courts
  • outdoor tennis courts
  • football/rugby pitch
  • 400m running track
  • 1 Blaes hockey pitch
  • 1 astroturf pitch

There is also an auditorium with a stage area and a full complement of lighting and sound equipment.

Outwith school hours, the school functions as a community centre.

In January 1997 a radiator fault caused a fire in the school's Music Department which is situated at the top floor of C block. The fire was extinguished quickly by the local fire brigade. The Music Department suffered the most damage through both fire and water, however each level underneath the 3rd floor suffered subsequent fire damage. The school was closed for several days with the students being allowed back in stages with Senior students, who were in the final preparations for May exams, returning first.

Maybe ironically, the fire began in the early hours of the morning after the schools 'Burns Night' celebrations for the birthday of Robert Burns.


Pupils are offered a full range of courses from 5-14 in S1/ S2, through Standard Grade to National Qualifications at Intermediate, Higher and Advanced Higher levels.

A high staying on rate is reflected in large numbers gaining employment, training or Further or Higher Education.

A wide range of extracurricular activities is on offer. These include sport, music, drama and chess. Pupils also have the opportunity of foreign travel through ski trips, visits to historical sites, school exchanges and participation in World Challenge Expeditions.

Since 1999 the school has offered an annual trip to Paris for S5-6 pupils and since 2003 a biennial language study trip to St Omer in Northern France for pupils in S1-3.

Pupil representatives are elected to year councils and the whole pupil council meets with the rector once a term. Working groups tackle whole-school issues.

The school originally won a Charter Mark Award for excellence in public service in 2001, this has now been renewed. The school also has the Schools Curriculum Award.

Recently pupils in an Alternative Curriculum Group won a Fife Excellence Award and the magazine club won the Scotsman/Royal Bank of Scotland ‘Design a Newspaper’. More recently, a Young Enterprise company in the school scooped two of the three trophies. Pupils and staff take part in regular fund-raising for Save the Children.

School Departments

Department of Art

Department of Biology

Department of Business Education

Department of Chemistry

Department of Computing

Department of Drama

Department of English

Department of Home Economics

Department of Mathematics

Department of Modern Languages

Department of Music

Department of Physics

Pupil Support

Department of Religious & Moral Education

Department of Social Subjects

Department of Technology

School Shows

Balwearie holds a biennial School Musical performed and crewed entirely by its pupils. Teachers, including the current rector, have been known to make cameo appearances on several occasions. Past productions include Oliver Twist, Annie, Fiddler on the Roof, Calamity Jane, South Pacific, Me and My Girl (2006) and most recently Anything Goes (2008).

Several of the lead performers in these school shows have gone on to study at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama

School Day

The school day is divided up into six, 53 minute periods. The school timetable was changed in the mid 1990s to allow children to travel home whilst it was still light during the winter months. Previously the lunch break was longer, and the school day finished at 15:50. In 2005, afternoon registration was removed, and morning registration was extended. The school day now finishes at 15:35.

School Board and Parent/Teacher Association

Balwearie is supported by a School Board and a parent/teacher association – the Balwearie High School Association. The Balwearie High School Association provides volunteers for many of the school's social events, including the biennial School Musical.

Parents are encouraged to contact the school when necessary, and attend a wide variety of information, pupil progress and social evenings.


Since 1988 the Rector (Head Teacher) of Balwearie High School has been Gordon Mackenzie, OBE. He is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde, with a Bachelor's degree in Economics and Accountancy. He then moved to Aberdeen University, where he spent a year completing his Teacher Training qualification. He is a past president of the Headteachers' Association of Scotland. Currently he is an external examiner for Aberdeen University and a member of the Learning and Teaching Scotland Advisory Council. In 2001 he was awarded an OBE for services to Secondary Education.

Notable alumni


The school's motto is "To Strive, to Seek", taken from the final line of Tennyson's Ulysses. The line ends " find, and not to yield."

Recent HMIe Inspection

Recently the school had undergone an inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education(HMIe) and the conclusion to the report was that Balwearie High School is considered to be one of the top schools in the whole of Scotland.


External links

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