Author: hilarysnaith

Goodbye to Mr Macdonald

Wonderful send off from parents and carers

When the Parent Council made an appeal to families to contribute to a fund to mark Donald Macdonald’s retirement from teaching, and from JGHS, we were confident that it would be well supported, reflecting the high regard in which our departing Head teacher is held, and the affection which the school community has for him.

We are therefore delighted to announce that this appeal raised the sum of £2,212.86.

We were delighted, on behalf of parents and families at the school, to present Donald with a beautiful bowl from a local pottery, and also with his very own Leavers 2022 hoodie. The lovely farewell messages from JGHS families have been compiled and are being passed on to Donald as a further souvenir of his time at Gillespie’s.

Gifts presented to Mr Macdonald by the Parent Council

Donald J Macdonald Award

The generosity of families means that we are able now to set up an award which will be an enduring legacy of Donald’s time at the school. This will be named the Donald J Macdonald Award and will aim to recognise the achievements of pupils, reflecting the values of the school of respect, kindness, integrity, inclusion and high expectations, which Donald himself values so much and promoted throughout his time here.

Further details of the award will be announced in the new school year, to allow consultation with the school and – most importantly – Donald himself.

Thank you!

Over the last ten years at Gillespie’s Donald has seen thousands of children through their schooling and on to life in the outside world. We would like to thank him for for his commitment to Gillespie’s over that period, through good times, and great times, but also – and particularly over the last two years – in times which have been challenging and stressful. 

His support of children and families throughout, and also his willingness to take unpopular stances on our behalf, knowing that it was in the best interests of the school and its pupils, has been very much appreciated.

Goodbye, Donald, and our very best wishes for a long, healthy and happy retirement. Or, as they might say in North Uist: Gur math a thèid leibh, a Dhòmhnuill – bidh sinn gur n-ionndrainn!

JGHS Parent Council

Backchat termly newsletter is now available

24 June 2022: The Summer edition of the Backchat newsletter from Connect (formerly the Scottish Parent Teacher Council) is now available.

Read the newsletter here

This edition includes an introduction to Connect’s new Executive Director, Patrick McGlinchey, who takes up his role on 1 August 2022.

You can also read a summary of Connect’s Health and Wellbeing in Schools survey report. Booking links for the live online Information Sessions for August and September are available too.

Mr Neil McCallum to be Acting Head Teacher at JGHS

10 June 2022: Today parents and carers at JGHS received a letter from Jackie Reid, Acting Senior Education Manager at the City of Edinburgh Council, to say that Mr Neil McCallum, currently Head Teacher at Balerno High School, has been appointed as Acting Head Teacher at JGHS from August to December, 2022.

The letter went on to say that “Mr McCallum has previously worked in James Gillespie’s, which provides him with a well-established knowledge of the school context. His extensive leadership skills and experience will augment the strength of the existing senior leadership team to provide the continuity and stability needed at this time”.

Mr Macdonald is leaving us

1 June 2022: As you will be aware, our Head Teacher, Mr Macdonald, is retiring at the end of this term. 

The Parent Council thought it would be nice to mark the occasion by setting up some awards in his name for pupils, to fit with the school values.  We would also like to get him some small personal gifts.  

We hope that many parents would like to contribute to this, so if you wish to do so, please use the following link to CollectionPot: 

Mr Macdonald’s retirement collection

Once we have arranged the gifts, we will post the details on the PC website. please note that the Pot will close on 24 June.

We have also set up a ‘virtual’ leaving card which you may also wish to sign – this may be found here: 

Mr Macdonald’s leaving card

**PLEASE USE THE CARD AND NOT THE DONATIONS PAGE FOR ANY MESSAGES, as Mr Macdonald will not see the donations page**

Many thanks!

Update on recruitment of new Headteacher at JGHS

27 May 2022: The post of Headteacher at JGHS was advertised by the Council at the beginning of May, with the hope that a replacement for the school’s retiring Head, Donald Macdonald, could be put in post as close as possible to his departure date in August. 

That advert has now closed, and the Council have decided that the post should be re-advertised to allow more time for all prospective candidates to register an interest.  This will take place after the summer holidays at the beginning of the 2022/23 school session.

For the period up to Christmas, the Council are planning to designate an Acting Headteacher, and are hoping to recruit a suitable candidate from amongst the secondary Headteachers in Edinburgh.

Parent Council involvement

Parent representatives have been working with the Council to find the best way forward in this process. The Parent Council has emphasised the importance of a capable, committed and enthusiastic acting Headteacher being in place as soon as possible so they are able to work with Mr Macdonald in the run-up to his retirement and can take over smoothly after the summer. 

They have also stressed that the new recruitment process should be a dynamic and open one, which is advertised as widely as possible and will maximise the possibility of a competitive range of candidates being attracted to the role.

Please send any comments you have about this matter to the Parent Council.

Email the Parent Council

Recording of Parent Council meeting on 17 May now available

18 May 2022: Many thanks to those who attended the meeting of the Parent Council on 17 May. It was a momentous evening, as it marked the last time for our current headteacher, Donald MacDonald, to attend this meeting before he retires this summer.

We were also very grateful Nikki Graham, the new JGHS Mental Health Coordinator, who spoke about supporting pupils at the school with mental health challenges. You can access the slides from her presentation below.

Mental Health Matters at JGHS

If you were unable to join to the meeting, or would like listen again to any of the information presented, a recording is now available on YouTube.

James Gillespie’s High School Parent Council Meeting 17 May 2022

Results of survey on online parent consultations

18 May 2022: Many thanks to everyone who took part in the recent survey about online parent consultations at JGHS – over 160 people sent in their views – which was a fantastic response.

As was reported at the Parent Council meeting on Tuesday 17 May there was a broad overall split in views, between parents who preferred online meetings, in-person meetings, or a mixture of the two.

Many parents felt that it was more convenient to attend the meetings online, with no need to travel, or navigate their way around a busy school. Equally, many also missed the opportunity to see the environment in which our children spend so much time, and to engage with teachers face-to-face.

The survey results have been passed to the school to help inform their planning for the upcoming academic session.

A summary is presented below.

Next Parent Council meeting is on Tuesday 17 May

Updated 13 May 2022: A quick heads up that the next meeting of the JGHS Parent Council (and the last of this academic year) will be next Tuesday 17 May at 7 pm on MS Teams.

The joining link will be forwarded by the School the day before the meeting.


  • School update – Donald McDonald, Headteacher,
  • Mental health support at JGHS – Nikki Graham, JGHS Mental Health Coordinator
  • Q&A

If there are any questions you would like to see addressed at the meeting, please email the Parent Council by noon on Monday 16 May.

Email the Parent Council

Edinburgh EIS Local Elections Hustings

27 April 2022: In the run up to the local council elections, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) will be hosting an opportunity to ask representatives from the main political parties about their priorities for education in Edinburgh. 

Online Any Education Questions next Tuesday 3 May 2022 at 6.30 pm (via Zoom)

Please come along to show our politicians that schools and children matter!

Click here to register
Please Note:

  • All attendees will be given the opportunity to submit questions in advance, so that we can try to ensure that we cover the full range of concerns.  The EIS will email those who register with more information about this, as well as sending them the zoom link etc
  • EIS are trying to secure BSL interpreters, but cannot guarantee that they will be able to have this in place.  They aim to set up captioning.  If there are other things they can do to make the meeting more accessible, please get in touch with then directly (via
  • *They have invited spokespersons from each of the parties represented at Holyrood/who are part of COSLA.

Online Parents’ Evenings – what do you think?

2 April 2022: The Parent Council would like to hear from parents about how online parent consultations with teachers have been working, and your views on whether we keep this format or go back to in-person meetings. 

What has worked for you and what has not?

In the future, what sorts of school events are best held in the school and what can be done online?

Our survey will be running over Easter and can be completed at the link below: 

Parents’ Evenings Survey 

It will only take 5 minutes and we hope to hear from as many parents as possible.

We will feed the results back to the School to help inform future planning.

Thank you!