If at first you don't succeed...

23rd March 2007 at 00:00
"I wasn't good enough." It's not a phrase pupils at Holy-rood Secondary expected to hear when they met some of the school's high-flying alumni, yet it has just been uttered by one of the country's pre-eminent scientists.

Chemistry professor David O'Hagan, of St Andrew's University, told pupils that while at Holyrood, his ambitions to study medicine were thwarted simply because he was a "very average" student.

Admissions of fallibility were a common theme among former pupils who were visiting the school last week to talk to pupils - a group that also included the chairman of Sainsbury's Bank, one of Scotland's most celebrated businessmen, and leading figures in comedy, dentistry and local government.

Willie Haughey, whose City Refrigeration was voted Europe's fastest-growing company in 2004, confessed that he had thought about giving up during the business's tough early years.

Benny Higgins, chairman of Sainsbury's Bank and an HBOS executive director, recalled that he was not quite good enough to make it as a profes-sional footballer.

Yet what also linked the ex-pupils was a dogged determination to do well, even after setbacks. Equally, all were driven by an intrinsic interest in the career they had chosen.

"If you set up in business and your driving ambition is to become a millionaire, you'll probably fail," said Mr Haughey. "If you set out to do the very best you can, there is a right good chance you will become a millionaire."

The event was organised with help from www.achieversuk.com, a website that highlights the success of former pupils at Scottish state schools. About half of Scotland's state schools are represented on the site.

Director Patrick Gaffney said it was part of private schools' culture to highlight the achievements of former pupils, but that state schools were traditionally far less likely to do so.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now