Who got that job?

27th February 2009 at 00:00
Ever wondered who got a job you saw advertised in TESS? Find out more about the new head of St Peter the Apostle High

Mike Vassie, appointed head of the new Catholic secondary in Clydebank, St Peter the Apostle High, could justifiably have been described as the sitting candidate. He was already the headteacher of St Andrew's High, which is being amalgamated with St Columba's High this summer to create the new school.

With 1,600 pupils, the school will be "huge" by today's standards, he admits. The merger has been controversial: the St Andrew's parents felt that a 950-pupil school was not viable as a single entity. Nevertheless, Mr Vassie is confident that parents, pupils and staff from both schools will soon be working in tandem.

His main concern is staff morale, because several teachers have worked in the same school for 30 years and the merger will be a huge change for them. There will be competitive interviews for some posts before Easter, which will mean disappointment, although hopefully no displacements.

Mr Vassie has been the losing candidate when schools have amalgamated in the past, so he understands the sensitivities. "Both schools have different ways of dealing with things," he says, having spent his mornings in St Columba's and afternoons in St Andrew's since he was appointed in November.

Last year, in preparation, the schools unified their S3-4 curricula so both were offering the same Standard grades or Intermediates.

If the sheer size of the new school presents problems, it also offers economies of scale and should allow it to offer more Advanced Highers in S6 than a smaller secondary might. It also boasts excellent sporting and drama facilities which will be open to the community.

When the school opens in August, Mr Vassie will have a senior management team of six deputes and a staff of 120, who will share a "fantastic" split-level staffroom, the two levels connected by a winding staircase.

From its position overlooking Clydebank, he should almost be able to see the area where he grew up - Drumchapel. It was to St Pius Secondary, his old school, that he returned for his first post as a history teacher, before moving through the ranks at St Mungo's Academy and St Roch's Secondary in Glasgow.

He joined St Andrew's High in 1990 as a principal teacher, becoming an assistant head and then depute.

When his boss moved on, St Andrew's High was already facing amalgamation, so West Dunbartonshire Council appointed Mr Vassie on a fixed-term contract until the merger had gone through, and the opportunity for a permanent headship came his way.

Elizabeth Buie.

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