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In a class of its own

Our spy takes a

lesson in education

from Scotland's

biggest school

IT'S the biggest school in Scotland. Holyrood Secondary, South Side of Glasgow. Former pupils have distinguished themselves in many areas.

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Helena Kennedy, QC, fighter for feminist cause, a shining example.

Not all glittering prizes achieved at school. Although pupils have become stars. Like Simple Minds, who had simple goal.

Headmaster Peter Mullen tried to talk them out of it. When Jim Kerr and rest announced they were leaving in sixth year. Without taking Highers. Went into long panegyric about values of education. The key that opened a million doors. They were academics. Would regret decision to end of days.

Instead they opened millions of doors with record sales. Became millionaires. How far would they have got had they taken his advice? He now wonders.

Clare Grogan and group Altered Images other examples of Holyrood kids getting on to pop block. Jimmy Boyle, head of Radio Scotland, another boy who done good. Eventually. Also Liam Kane, chief executive of Caledonian Newspapers.

Footballers by the locker-room-full have kicked their way to stardom. Mainly with Celtic.

Holyrood established 1936. Was a selective school. Now a Catholic six-year comprehensive. Stated aims: to offer environment to nurture Catholic faith of pupils, promote relevance of Christian values, such as love, tolerance, respect, justice. Through development of healthy personal relationships.

Became first Glasgow Catholic co-educational secondary with a lay headmaster, Francis Graham. Design of latest open-corridor type. Proud of modern equipment: wireless set and cinema projector. Official opening, September 24, 1937, by Lord Provost Sir John Stewart.

War years looming. It was to take lives of two members of staff, 10 former pupils. Some pupils and staff evacuated to Kirkcudbright. Class of Polish children at Holyrood, 1941.

After war, roll increased rapidly. From 900 in 1946 went to 1856 in silver jubilee year, 1961. Large extension opened by Lord Provost John Mains, 1972. Roll reached 2277 in 1975. Own chapel opened 1981.

School seen as role model. Over years, visited by educationalists from Australia, Tanzania, Bavaria, Jordan, China, Japan.

Continuity and stability hallmarks of Holyrood. Only been five headmasters in its 58 years.

Stories of immediate past headmaster Peter Poli legend. A wee man with big influence. Became known as Master of the Posts, through parody of hymn, Holy Holy Holy, Lord God of Hosts. This became Poli Poli Poli, Lord God of Posts.

Peter Mullen is set to retire next month, aged 60. Will have been 18 years in post. Immediate plans to find place in the sun. Caribbean cruise, then South America, November and December. After that play a lot of bowls and golf.

And, as Holyrood approaches sixtieth anniversary, school will continue to be concerned with minds and images. Simple and altered.

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