This year, a school in Glasgow was named Miller Primary after Reverend John Miller. We asked eight people in Scottish education whom they would name a school after
19th December 2008, 12:00am





Local lad does good

It was the first day back at school after six weeks’ holiday and there was an element of “here we go again”. But it was an in-service training day and Sir John Jones, who received a knighthood for his services to education, was talking. He was inspirational.

But, if I was naming a school after someone, it would be Chris Hoy, the Olympic cyclist (and BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2008). He is the local lad who did well. He trained at Meadowbank, where we hold our sports day and where pupils go for their out-of-school sports clubs.

We went to the Royal Mile to see the returning Olympians and some of the pupils got to meet him. It’s the first time I’ve seen them genuinely inspired by someone, and someone who is not just famous for being famous. They took away the message that we always try to drum into them about setting a goal, working hard to get there and persevering.

Tania Evans, teacher, Abbeyhill Primary,



Pat on the back

I had many unforgettable teachers. Some were fearsome, like Basher Briggs, or - to give her her real name - Sister Rosemary. Some made a distinct impression, like Wee Smiffy, the maths teacher who prodded us on the arm until we could recite theorems, even if we could no longer hold a pen.

If I were to single out one person who deserves to have a school named after him, it would be my former Latin teacher Pat Johnston. He was a magisterial figure and we could have listened to him for hours. Learned, cultured, patient, humble and suave. His only known flaws were a liking for full-strength Capstan and Motherwell FC.

His Latin and Greek classes were a delight and stood us in good stead for learning modern European languages.

Like all truly great teachers, Pat was never rewarded, recognised or appreciated by those in power. If I ever get to open a new school, it would be my honour to call it Patrick Johnston High. He would have liked that.

Bridget McElroy of The TESS diary


Shake, rattle and roll

I have always thought Kenny Dalglish was the best footballer ever. He was fantastic, loved the game, had great intelligence and would do things other players would never think of.

I tend not to have heroes, because they disappoint you when they turn out to be human. I’ve never been into the “great man of history” theory either. I think all of us can be heroic in what we do. But recently, as an MSP, I got to meet Dalglish and he more than lived up to my expectations. He is often portrayed on television as a gruff, muttering, incomprehensible, dour Scot. But this couldn’t be further from the truth; he is a very funny man.

My other hero is Elvis. I doubt I would ever seriously name a Scottish school after him, although there is of course the Scottish connection, with Prestwick being the only place in the UK he ever touched down. So maybe the Elvis School of Rock.

Ken Macintosh, Labour schools spokesman


Fisher of men

When my father, Thomas Gilbert Andrew (known as Bert), was lost at sea in 1990, the newspapers described him as “the gentleman of Scottish fishing”.

There was big money in fishing, but there was over-fishing. He spent a lot of time trying to make sure the quotas were fair and that Scottish fishermen got a good deal. His boats were registered in Maidens, the Ayrshire village we are from, but he fished all over Scotland.

Young people all over Scotland got their chance because he would take them on and give them his time - even the ones with bad reputations. A lot of skippers just stay in the wheelhouse and leave the boys to get on with it. He was washed overboard when he came out to help sort out a problem on deck. He never asked them to do anything he wasn’t prepared to do himself.

My dad is my hero and if I were renaming Maidens Primary, I’d name it after him.

Lindsay Bradley, headteacher, Acharacle Primary, Highland


A model for others

It was December 1, 1955, in Alabama, that Rosa Parks, a black woman who was exhausted after a long day at work, refused to give up her seat to a white person. She was arrested.

That incident ignited the civil rights movement, led by Martin Luther King. Without such people, and those like them, we would live in a less fair and compassionate society, and we would not be about to have an African-American as president of the United States.

Rosa later wrote: “Each person must live their life as a model for others.”

We need more people in this world with the courage to confront the evil of bigotry. I put the question about renaming our school to our P6-7 class, and it was they who came up with the idea. I’d be happy to rename our school Rosa Parks Primary.

John Moar, headteacher, Firth Primary, Orkney


Light Burns bright

Generally, I think it’s better when schools are named after the local town, area or village. That was always helpful when you were playing netball or hockey, so you knew where your opponents were from.

I’m due to open the new Alloway Primary, my old school, in January. It is understandable that they wanted to keep the old name, but that’s where Robert Burns was born, so it would have made sense to name it after him.

If I were naming a school, Burns would be my choice. He is the most famous Scotsman in history and is celebrated across the world. Having said that, at Alloway we didn’t have to name the school after Burns to celebrate and know a great deal about him.

I entered all the Burns competitions and always came second or third, but in P7 I made a clean sweep and was first in the poetry and the singing, with “Where are the joys I have met?” and “Mary Morison”.

Burns is a poet who appeals to people from all backgrounds. Even as a child I enjoyed his writing.

Fiona Hyslop, Education Secretary


Times they are a-changing

I would name a school after Bob Dylan, because the children would always be able to look to him for inspiration. It would allow them to combine music and language.

I’m 26, but I think Dylan’s music crosses generations. I first became interested in him five years ago, when a family friend introduced me to his music. I’d like to do a series of lessons with my P5 class, looking at his song lyrics. I play guitar and we could do some drama with it. My first choice would be “John Brown”, which looks at issues to do with war.

How would the choice of name go down with an education authority? In my area, I’m not too sure. But if it was a music school rather than a mainstream one, it would work.

Colin Whittet, probationer, Netherlee Primary, East Renfrewshire


Charisma all the way

Allan Hannah was rector of Glenwood High, Glenrothes, from 1986-1994, when his professional career was brought to an end after a stroke, which left his right side paralysed.

I first met Allan in October 1986, when he interviewed me for the depute post. Even then, his warmth, humour, care and compassion for young people and, above all, his drive to bring about educational improvement shone through.

Allan was an outstanding head. He had a clear vision for his school and a capacity to deliver good ideas. Long before it was in vogue, he introduced a robust scheme of self-evaluation and quality assurance. He believed in engaging pupils, staff and parents as “stakeholders” in their school. The inspectorate highlighted the dramatic improvements under his leadership. He was the major influence in shaping my career, and the most inspirational, charismatic leader I have ever worked with.

He made a distinctive mark on Scottish education, and naming a school after him would remind us all of that.

Lindsay Roy, Glenrothes MP and a former headteacher.

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