KEIL School at Dumbarton is celebrating 1995 with the 80th anniversary

of its foundation, a record number of pupils, and the opening of a new

custom-built art and design department, a traditionally strong area

within the school.

Founded in 1915 by Sir William Mackinnon as the Kintyre Technical

School, at Keil House, Southend, Argyll, the building was destroyed by

fire a decade later. Having moved in 1925 to the 50 acre estate

overlooking the River Clyde at Helenslee, Dumbarton, where it has

remained, it took the name Keil School.

Over the years, Keil has grown steadily. Today, its pupil roll stands

at 210, just over half of whom are day pupils. 1989 saw the school

become fully co-educational. Girls, who have their own house, now

account for one third of its total.

Keil's headmaster, John Cummings, took the helm in April 1993, having

taught previously at Wycliffe College, Gloucestershire, Tonbridge

School, Kent, and latterly at Glasgow Academy.

In attempting to explain the ethos of Keil, Mr Cummings says: ''We

firmly believe in the best of the Scottish tradition of education. We

consider that we have a very good curriculum in place, along with a very

caring atmosphere; this makes the individual pupil the most important

element of the school, in what we hope is a strong, family atmosphere.

''The pastoral system at Keil,'' continues the headmaster, ''is a

strength not only for the boarders, but also for the day pupils. The

fact that our central ethos is as a boarding school, means that the day

pupils benefit from a very active, invigorating, stimulating programme,

not only in the classroom but outside it. That is our great strength.''

In any one term, Mr Cummings explains, the school offers, in addition

to their main sports -- rugby, hockey, athletics, cricket, tennis,

netball, basketball, football -- some 20 different activities, from the

Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme to chess, sailing to choir, community

service to orienteering, drama, and debating.

''We look for good leadership potential. When it comes to

participation in plays or concert, debates or sport for example, we find

a large proportion of the school taking part,'' says John Cummings. ''It

is difficult to opt out at Keil; that's an important factor.''

Pupils enter Keil at transitus (primary seven) or at S1, and at other

levels depending on availability of places. Entry to the school is by

interview and test, and a report from the pupil's present school.

Following the entrance examination in February, a number of

scholarships, bursaries and Government assisted places are awarded;

while mainly based on academic ability, a pupil's likely contribution to

the life of the school in terms of a combination of strength of

personality and particular abilities in, for example, music, art, drama

and sports also may be taken into account. There are a number of special

Mackinnon-Macneill Foundation Awards for pupils from the Highlands and


The new #125,000 art and design department opened last week, and

adjacent to other recently built blocks housing the sciences and maths,

was funded from capital. Mary Duncan, head of art at Keil, comments:

''We will be able to expand the number of our activities -- screen

printing for example, which hopefully will be in full swing by next year

-- which is absolutely essential. The extra space we now have to enable

us to do things properly, is the biggest bonus.''

Head of technical subjects, Martin Lennie explains: ''The two new

highers, graphic communication and the revised craft and design, are now

accepted at university as the fourth or fifth subject, because we've

moved away from 80% practical to 80% theory in the latter. The way we

undertake design within craft and design, parallels Strathclyde

University's teaching of first year students; that's tied in quite


''Graphic communication involves pupils doing what's called a thematic

presentation: looking at how the product is marketed and following that

through. Keil offers both subjects from first year up to higher.

Summarising, John Cummings he says: ''Keil seeks pupils with the

potential to benefit from the all-round education that we offer, and the

positive aspects in the life of the school. If one wants a good measure

of a Keil pupil, it's the sort of citizen they become three or four

years after leaving school. That's the yardstick.''