Pupils at Madras College are “ram-jam packed full of potential”, says new head teacher Ken Currie – and his aim is to ensure they achieve that potential.
And to do that, he says it’s critical not to lose sight of the changes and adaptability shown in education through the pandemic.
Ken took over role of rector at the Fife school in August, as pupils first set foot in their new building at the entrance of St Andrews, neighbouring the university.
He said: “My first impressions of the pupils here was that they are a mature, first class group of talented young people, from all backgrounds and all walks of life.
“They quickly showed me they are ram-jam packed full of potential – the quality of their conversations and levels of understanding is outstanding.”
Ken says he is also focusing on cross-school collaboration, relationships with the wider community and mental health to help young people achieve their potential.
New building, new head
Originally from Falkirk, Ken first worked as a tech teacher in his home town and Stirling.
He then took on various roles at Balwearie High School, in Kirkcaldy, including principal guidance teacher, pupil support and depute rector.
Ken also spent periods on secondment at Glenwood High School, in Glenrothes, and St Andrews High School, in Kirkcaldy.
He said: “I aspired to be head of my own school, but what appealed to me about Madras was its proud history and the success and ambition of the school.
“And the fact it’s a new build helped too, coming from an old building. I knew it would be a challenge to bring all the pupils and staff together – and that’s exciting.”
With state of the art facilities, the new building links all of the school’s year groups for the first time, with junior and upper years having previously been split across two sites.
Ken continued: “I’m very conscious of the fact it had been a long time coming for the pupils and staff, who spent many hours traveling between the two buildings.
“Now, staff teams are all together, which increases the potential for professional learning. They are more accessible to other team members – and to pupils.
“And we have a new location, next door to St Andrews University, with which we have close ties.”
Collaboration with the wider community
Projects reinforcing these close bonds are already underway within the school, including culture and arts collaborations with St Andrews University and Fife College.
Pupils interested in craft based or performance subjects can spend time on site at Fife College as part of the school’s curriculum.
And various one off projects take place throughout the school year, such as designing golf bags for The Open or participating in COP26 campaigning.
We’re seeing more collaboration … than ever before.
Ken said: “The big advantage of a single site is that we’re seeing more collaboration up and down the school – from S1 to S6 – than ever before.
“Having everyone together, flexible working spaces, pupil ambassadors and tutors – there’s more opportunity for people to connect.”
Ken says school teams and young people have shown an “incredible amount of adaptability” in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and the challenges it has brought.
He is keen to build on that moving forward, and says the health and wellbeing of pupils continues to be a big focus for the school.
He said: “We’re working to maintain connectiveness between young people and teaching staff to ensure pupils are comfortable.
“That work is significant to ensure young people continue to reach their potential and are able to progress, and those who need more support are able to get it.
“The ability to adapt and be agile has been the best thing we have seen in the pandemic and it’s important that we don’t forget that or lose these changes going forward.”
As well as building on cross-school collaboration and support for young people, Ken is also currently prioritising attainment and high quality relationships with the community.
The school is opened up to local organisations and clubs in the evening to maintain links to the community and that is something which he is keen to encourage.