Right from the moment that you pass under the rather grand stone archway that marks the entrance to Kilgraston, it’s clear you’ve arrived at a rather special place. Travel down the driveway, over the stream and past fields of horses until you reach our Georgian red sandstone mansion. Inside, our girls’ artwork adorns every wall, and the sounds of music rehearsals echo down each corridor. Across the front lawn – to what was once the stable building but is now our bright and cheery prep school – girls laugh, play and learn together. Only 45 minutes from Edinburgh airport yet Kilgraston is secluded and girls are free to roam around the 54 acres of pristine Scottish parkland.
We are a school with traditional values but a modern and forward looking perspective on education. Education is not just about exam success; developing interest and talents, nurturing an understanding of divergent cultures, and emphasising our personal responsibility as global citizens are vital. As such, a Kilgraston girl benefits from a wealth of opportunities to extend and enrich her educational experience. We offer an enormous breadth of extra-curricular activities, and enjoy modern, state of the art facilities in sports, art, music and science. With the Equestrian centre, a new International sized all-weather hockey pitch, 8 all-weather tennis courts, sports hall with climbing wall and fitness suite and a new 25m indoor swimming pool there is more than enough to keep the girls occupied! The school is a member of the international network of Sacred Heart Schools which opens Kilgraston to a wide range of personal contacts and potential for lifelong friendships with a number of pupils who attend from Mexico, Spain, Germany and other countries world-wide.
A new term is certainly a breath of fresh air at the all-girls’ school in Perthshire.
From the start of the new decade, parents, guardians and bus drivers have been told that letting their vehicle’s engine run unnecessarily on the School’s campus is definitely not the way forward.
“I was approached by Alyth Braithwaite, one of our Junior Years pupils, last term,” said Dorothy MacGinty, Head of Kilgraston, “she was particularly concerned about the effect of air-borne pollution on young people and I decided to look into the situation.”
Brief investigation threw-up several shocking statistics: The British Heart Foundation’s website states, bluntly, that: ‘Babies and children are especially vulnerable to air pollution as their lungs are still growing and developing.’
Mrs MacGinty said: “Additionally, the Royal College of Physicians estimate 40,000 deaths a year in the UK are linked to air pollution, with engine idling contributing to this figure. Even living in a rural area we are not immune from the effects of pollutants, like PM10 or PM2.5, which penetrate deep into your lung tissue.”
Parent, Claire Alexander, sees the School’s move as very positive: “I think that this move is especially encouraging as it is the children who are recognising and initiating the move. I am wholeheartedly behind the initiative and hope that everyone will join-in with the children’s enthusiasm.”
Kilgraston appreciates that often those offering a ‘taxi’ service to pupils often have to wait while their charges arrive at the chosen point. “We know hanging around for a child can be chilly work,” comments Mrs MacGinty, “so we have written to parents inviting them to come into the school, whatever the time, and wait in the warmth of Reception, rather than sit with their engine running in the car park.”
It’s not just little lungs that suffer
According to respected ‘auto’ website, Spark Plugs’, damage from idling is not just inflicted on human recipients: “Excessive idling can damage your engine’s components, including spark plugs, cylinders and exhaust systems. Because your vehicle’s engine is not operating at its peak temperature when idling, fuel is only partially combusted, leading to a fuel residue build-up on cylinder walls. This is the gunk that can foul your spark plugs and muck up your exhaust systems,” it says.
All part of the plan
Kilgraston’s no-idling policy dovetails closely with the School’s many environmental initiatives including the avoidance of single-use plastic and the discouragement of ‘fast fashion’, encouraging the use of vintage clothing.
Perth girl, and Kilgraston School pupil, India Duffy (15 years old) has been selected for the Scottish national netball development squad. India is one of 33 girls from all over Scotland to train with the squad with a view to hopefully being part of the national squad. The squad will train all over the country - Glasgow, Dundee or Edinburgh – every second weekend. India was chosen for Goal Shooter and Goal Attack positions.
The fifteen year-old started playing when she was nine years old with the Perth Junior Netball Team. She decided she liked the sport so much that she trialed for Perth U12, was accepted, then carried on and now plays for their U17 team. India trains at Kilgraston’s gym throughout the week.
the young enthusiast plays in four other teams; Perth U17s Club, Perth U17s District; Old Ship Inn Ladies’ Team and Kilgraston Seniors and now the national academy.
This is the first year that there has been a national development squad. Until recently there were three different divisions but they have now amalgamated to form one development squad.
“I was selected for trial at the Oriam Stadium in Edinburgh (Scotland’s national performance centre) at the end of August. I was really thrilled to get the call saying I had a place. All the hard work has paid off. Eventually I would like to play for the Scottish Thistles, the national team who play in Commonwealth Games and World Cup. My mum played at university and encouraged me to try to try it and I’m very glad that she did. Training involves lots of fitness and stamina work and ball skills.”
There’s no respite over Christmas though, India will still go to the gym do lots of running.
Bird perfect for Kilgraston pupils at GWCT art competition
Birds are very much of the moment at Kilgraston. This week witnessed another avian encounter with five pupils winning seven awards for their depiction of native species in the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust Schools’ art competition.
Now in its sixteenth year, the competition is open to all pupils, from Primary One to Sixth Year, across the county of Perth and Kinross, attracting hundreds of entries.
Each year, pupils are asked to submit a piece of artwork depicting a piece of British wildlife in its natural habitat.
The award ceremony was a prestigious event, held in Perth’s beautiful AK Bell Library, presided over by Dr Adam Smith, GWCTs Director of Policy Scotland.
Sana Javed was the overall winner in the S5–6 category and received the GWCT/Blackadders Solicitors trophy for her stunning painting of a swan and her cygnets. Sana also won a set of six lessons with local ceramicist, Julian Jardine at his studios in Perth, along with a family pass to the Scottish Game Fair.
Meteor Pu, was Runner-Up in the Secondary S1-4 category with her beautiful acrylic painting of a kestrel.
India Howie, with her acrylic of a merlin falcon; Sophia Laris’ beautiful finch on pastel with acrylic ground; Maia McLaren’s pastel of a puffin and Sana Javed’s swan and cygnets, all received commended certificates for their entries.
Maia McLaren was runner-up in the S5-6 category for her beautiful pastel study of a puffin.
Kilgraston’s Head of Art, Gillian Macleod, said: “Well done to all the girls, not only the prize winners but also all those that entered the competition. You are all winners in my eyes!”
The artwork is currently on show at the AK Bell Library.
European Taekwondo championship class won by Kilgraston pupil
A Kilgraston School pupil has clinched a win in the Dutch Open Taekwondo competition, beating rivals from throughout Europe, to become the Taekyon Berghem Junior Patterns champion.
Sophie Spark-James, who lives and trains in Perth, won the Junior Female Patterns event, defeating ten other competitors.
“I love going to competitions and the thrill of seeing different locations,” said Sophie, “I feel like a different person when I put on my dobok (taekwondo suit).”
Patterns are a series of attacking and defensive movements against an imaginary opponent/opponents, set to a fixed logical sequence and are a fundamental element of taekwondo. Patterns become increasingly difficult as you progress through gradings and are an essential part of achieving a higher rank. In competition, two competitors have to demonstrate these patterns against one another, with the winner progressing to the next round
Sophie has been competing for nearly four years and is already a veteran of the World Championships - held in Glasgow during November 2019 - when she competed in the Junior section, achieving a Gold and two Silvers, making her a World Champion in Patterns for her age group.
Preparing for these events takes a huge amount of preparation: “I train twice every week, in Perth, for two hours; once per month in Edinburgh, with Grand Master Harkess, and with the Scotland U18 Squad in Alloa. It’s a big commitment,” says Sophie.
This weekend (1 December) saw another clutch of medals for Sophie, who brought home a Gold for Patterns U17; Silver for Sparring U17 and Silver for special technique (Flying High Kick) U17 at the Festival of Taekwondo in Wishaw, central Scotland. Mum, Lauren, is understandably very proud of her daughter: “Her commitment and determination is amazing, she is very dedicated.”
The youngster’s interest in the sport started with her mum asking if she wanted to attend a local class in 2015. “Initially I said ‘no’, but after trying it, I found I really loved it,” said Sophie.
Kilgraston School riders secure three out of four showjumping categories
Last weekend (24 November 2019) saw Kilgraston School sending a record number of teams of riders to Highfield Equestrian at Howe to compete in the Strathallan School’s team show jumping competition.
Last weekend (24 November 2019) saw Kilgraston School sending a record number of teams of riders to Highfield Equestrian at Howein Fife to compete in the Strathallan School’s team show jumping competition.
This annual event attracts nearly 250 entries with up to 16 teams per class. This year represented Kilgraston’s best results to date, winning three out of four classes.
Class 1 saw Ishbel Fossett, Meadow Bain, Lucy Helliker and Hannah Alexander fly round the 55cm with three very speedy double clears to take team 1st, Hannah was also second individually and Lucy fifth place.
Class 2 saw Kilgraston White take the trophy, another three brilliant fast clears from Olivia Kilic, Lucy Helliker and Hannah Alexander. Olivia Kilic took individual second place out of nearly 70 riders! Kilgraston Blue – Maisie Fossett, Meadow Bain, Grace Rattray and Emma Garvin also took fifth place.
Class 3, and another trophy. This time it was Kilgraston Blue - Mischa Steele, Flora Allan, Charlotte Jeffrey and Emma Garvin riding some outstanding jump off turns to take the top spot of 16 teams, with Kilgraston White - Olivia Kilic, Daisy Nisbit and Maisie Fossett taking third place.
Class 4 was the last class of the day, the 1m. Connie Wang, Erin Johnson, Flora Allan and Mischa Steele just had a couple of poles down between them, but still managed team third place.
Rachael MacLean, Equestrian Manager at Kilgraston said: “It was a brilliant day of sport, with some very competitive classes. The girls all rode so well and got the results they deserved, a huge well done to all who took part and to Strathallan for hosting.”
Kilgraston School pupil commendation from 11,000 global entries
The work of a Kilgraston School pupil has been awarded a commendation for being among the top 85 places, out of 11,000 entries, in an international poetry competition.
The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2019 has recognised Perthshire girl Anna Gilmore-Heezen's work ‘Celestial Acne’ - which tackled the issue of body image against the backdrop of astrological characters – as a winner.
Judge Jackie Kay, the national poet laureate of Scotland (the Scots Makar), presented the young writer with her achievement during a smart ceremony in London’s Southbank Centre on 2 October. “Meeting such an icon of the poetry-world was a huge honour,” said Anna, “having studied her work for an exam it was surreal to meet the actual author.”
A keen poet from a young age, Anna has entered many other competitions, most recently receiving a commendation for the William Soutar Prize for her poem 'Autumntide'. As president of the Kilgraston Poetry Society Anna is a prolific poet who voraciously reads other lyricists; it is her ambition is to be a published poet, while going on to study languages at university.
Frequently inspired by the natural world – Anna is also an accomplished artist - for the Foyle Young Poets competition she won with a piece of work that marked a real departure from her characteristic style and content, which usually takes a more anthropomorphic approach. “The planets’ surface reminded me of a teenage complexion and I wanted to celebrate that imperfection, looking at it through a prism of positivity,” she said.
Anna’s grandfather made her rethink her perceptions of the ‘dermatology’ of the planets and see them in a whole new light: “His wisdom reassured me during a moment of teenage doubt about my appearance,” said Anna, “his belief in me gave me renewed confidence that anyone can be a giant of the universe.”
Anna discussed her poem with Jackie Kay, who vividly remembered judging the entry: “Jackie immediately remembered the name of my poem and its content as being truly unique. I was so flattered that out of all the thousands of entries mine stuck in her head.”
The event proved a rich-source of networking for Anna who has now set-up a ‘Poet's Forum’ on which several of the young entrants now share their work and ideas.
The winning entries were selected from over 6,000 poets and over 11,000 poems by judges Raymond Antrobus and Jackie Kay. Writers aged 11-17, from 76 different countries and as far afield as Vietnam, Romania, Mexico and Japan, as well as the four corners of the UK submitted their work.
Kilgraston's Woman and Business programme welcomes accountancy experts
Senior School pupils have spent a fascinating morning learning about the various options open to them in the field of accountancy and tax. Two Chartered Accountants from Saffery Champness in Edinburgh were visiting Kilgraston School as part of its on-going 'Woman and Business' programme.
Catriona Macdonald and Ashley Middlemass discussed with pupils the various routes into a career in accountancy and tax and the options available once you had gained your qualification: "The world really does open up to you," Miss Middlemass told girls, "once you're a CA, there are endless possibilities."Girls learnt that it wasn't necessary to study accountancy at university and, in fact, completing your CA exams was not at all dependent on having previously studied the subject: "I completed a Science degree at Dundee University," said Miss Macdonald, "moving into accountancy represented a significant career change but one that I am very glad to have made."Pupils learnt about the progression through the industry and the support offered by governing body, the Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland. Miss Middlemass told girls: "Whether you choose to stay in practice accountancy, within a specialist firm, or move to an industry that particularly interests you, for example retail or engineering, you will always have the support and network offered by ICAS."
Summer internships, school-leaver programmes and graduate pathways were all discussed, with pupils asking many very well-informed questions: "It was clear to see that the girls have thought very carefully about their career and the opportunities available to them," commented Miss Macdonald.Relevant industry information and contact links were passed-out with several of the girls immediately exploring the various websites. Miss Middlemass, who studied Accounting and Finance at Edinburgh University, completed an eight-week summer internship with Saffery during her third year at university: "Having finished my studies I was asked to return to the firm to start a training contract and, after three years, am now a qualified Senior. I just love my job, there really is no such thing as a 'typical day!'"Kilgraston School would like to thank the ladies for giving up their time to join the pupils and delivering such an excellent presentation.
Daily Telegraph columnist answers the (many!) questions
More used to asking the questions, Judith Woods spent a whole day at Kilgraston answering pupils' queries about life as a journalist as part of the School's 'Women in Business' programme.
Stop the press, there’s a story happening here! Eminent national newspaper columnist Judith Woods spent a tough day at Kilgraston School being quizzed by Fifth and Sixth Form as part of the School’s ‘Women in Business’ programme.
More used to asking, rather than answering, the questions, the Daily Telegraph journalist gamely spent four hours with the tough young interrogators: “There was no slacking,” she said, “you have some keen news-hounds here, they really put me through my paces!”
Judith Woods is based in London having had a career that has taken her all over the globe. Born in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, Judith left home aged 18 to read German at Edinburgh University. Here she was an active member of the student theatre, appearing in numerous fringe festival comedy shows. During this time she also spent a year living in Berlin.
Judith graduated with a first class degree and joined a local, free, newspaper in Edinburgh, training on the job. She went on to work for the Edinburgh Evening News, speech radio and then The Scotsman, before receiving a call from The Daily Telegraph in London.
A contemporary of the now Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, Judith used to catch the same bus to work as the peer while he too was writing for the Telegraph. She noticed that he always sat at the very front of the bus (he does, as we know, like buses!) and didn’t seem to understand how to fold a newspaper, bundling all the billowing pages into a great big ball.
Commenting on her interview with Theresa May MP, Judith told the girls: “Prime ministers are tough but a lot easier than teenagers, let me tell you,” she continued: “At Kilgraston there’s no messing, they get straight to the point and don’t give up until they have the answer they want!”
Head of Kilgraston, Dorothy MacGinty, said: "We were thrilled to welcome Judith. So many fantastic stories, she was such an inspiration to all of the girls." Swimming with hammer-head sharks, travelling with Peruvian vigilantes, attending star-laced Oscar parties and interviewing teenage 'influencer' Zoella were just some of the subjects covered by the journalist. "A real eye-opener," said Mrs MacGinty, "we were very grateful to Judith for giving up a whole day of her time, it was a a fascinating journey."
Forthcoming Open Days
Sorry. No Open Day dates have been provided by the school.