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

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”.

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

Next Parent Council meeting on Tuesday 22 March 2022

22 March 2022 update: The next Parent Council meeting is tonight, Tuesday 22 March at 7 pm and will include a presentation by Faculty Head, Ashling Dolan, on the Maths curriculum


  • Update on PC activities – Sarah Scott, PC Chair
  • Mathematics Curriculum – Ashling Dolan, Acting Curriculum Leader for Maths
  • Update on Active Schools – Eliot Ambrose, Active Schools Co-ordinator
  • Head Teacher’s Report – Donald Macdonald
  • Questions – via Q&A chat

The joining link has been sent out by email by the School.

Please email the PC with any questions or issues you would like included in the Head Teacher’s update.

Email the Parent Council

Details of last meeting

The recording of our last meeting on 26 January 2022, and a copy of the Q&A, are available on the PC website:

PC meeting 26 January 2022

Choice, attainment and positive destinations research project

5 March 2022: James Gillespies High School is taking part in a research project being led by Stirling University on the impact of Curriculum for Excellence on attainment, subject choice and student experience. 

Take part in the project

As part of the research, the investigators would like to speak with a group of 4-6 parents with a child/children in S4-S6 to learn about their experience of supporting their child to make subject choices. 

There will be an online meeting with the group on Monday 14 March at 7 pm (about an hour). If you would be interested in participating, please contact the Parent Council by email:

Email the Parent Council 

Further information is available on the project website and on Twitter:

Choice, Attainment and Positive Destinations


JGHS Christmas Concert 2021

Sadly, due to the ongoing pandemic, the School was not able to host its usual Christmas concert in the Usher Hall.

Instead, pupils and the JGHS music department recorded performances by the wonderfully talented ensembles and bands at the school, and put together a fantastic online Christmas concert.

You can view it now via YouTube – Happy Christmas everyone!

Welcome back!

JGHS Parent Council would like to welcome you back to – and for those who are new, welcome you into – James Gillespie’s High School for the 2021/22 session.

The Parent Council is here to represent all parents and carers at the school, including by: 

  • putting forward parents’ views
  • consulting and providing feedback to the school
  • providing refreshments at school events
  • fundraising for school projects, equipment, books and trips
  • co-ordinating with other Parent Councils
  • making representations to the City Council

The Parent Council meets several times a year and we encourage everyone to get involved in whatever way they feel able. 

We will shortly be publishing our calendar of PC meeting dates for the session and reporting on the survey of parents which we carried out before the summer holidays.  

In the meantime, there is more information on the PC’s work on the website and we can be contacted at for any questions or to raise any issues.

Next Parent Council meeting on Tuesday 8 June 2021

1 June 2021: Our next Parent Council meeting will be on Tuesday 8 June at 7 pm.

We are hoping to hear about the following issues:

  • Donald McDonald (Headteacher) – School update
  • Bob Shankland (Deputy Headteacher) – SQA Alternative Certification Model
  • Jeff Warden (Deputy Headteacher) – New timetable
  • Eliot Ambrose (Active School Coordinator, City of Edinburgh Council) – Active Schools planning for 2021/22

If parents have questions or issues they would like to raise in advance of the meeting, please let us know via the Parent Council email address.

Email the Parent Council

The link to join this meeting on MS Teams has been shared via the School email account.

You can catch up with the recording of our last meeting on 12 May, and view the presentations by DHTs Laura Stewart on school capacity and Ben Lewis on reorganising the school communities.

Recording of Parent Council meeting 12 May 2021

Details of the Question and Answer session 12 May 2021 (opens as pdf)

Note of Parent Council meeting 12 May 2021 (opens as pdf)

Capacity Update 2021/22 – Laura Stewart (opens as pdf)

Pupil Support Restructuring – Ben Lewis (opens as pdf)

Sports activities for S1-S3s in the run up to summer

Active School clubs running for S1-S3 until the summer

22 May 2021: Active Schools is offering a range of sporting opportunities for S1-3 running up to the summer holidays. 

Places are limited and must be booked by Monday 24 May.

More information and booking details

New rugby sessions for S1 girls

Boroughmuir Rugby club are going to be running some excellent new sessions for NEW S1 Girls’ Rugby, beginning on Wednesday 2 June.

The sessions are run by Boroughmuir RFC rugby coaches and are open to players just starting out or players who have experience of rugby.

Sessions will involve lots of fun, games, skills, positional skills and teamwork.

Each session will start at 4.30 pm on Wednesdays at the Meggetland rugby pitches, Meggetland Wynd, EH14 1XN.

If you are interested in attending please contact Justin Loveridge, Rugby Academy Manager.

Email Justin Loveridge

S1 girls rugby poster

Coming up at the Parent Council meeting on 23 March 2021

19 March 2021: The next Parent Council meeting will be held online on Tuesday 23 March 2021 at 7 pm.  A link to join the meeting will be sent out next week through the school email system. 

We will hear from: 

  • Donald J. Macdonald – Head Teacher’s report 
  • Deirdre O’Brien (DHT) and Ashling Dolan (CL Maths) – report on the survey on remote learning
  • Bob Shankland (DHT) – SQA assessments

There will be the opportunity on the night to ask questions via the Q&A typed chat facility, but if you want to raise a question in advance it should be sent by Monday at 2pm to the Parent Council email and we will try to include it in the updates. 

Email the Parent Council

We know that not all parents will be free to join at the time of the meeting and we will be recording the presentations so that they can be viewed later. We are using MS Teams because it is the system approved by Edinburgh Council, but it doesn’t allow us to be as interactive as some other systems. The only people who will be seen and heard are the presenters, everyone else attending can interact by writing questions via the Q&A panel.

Parent Council Meeting 23 February 20201

You can catch up on the last PC meeting on 23 February via the minutes and recording of the meeting, and through the written responses for the Q&A.

Minutes of Parent Council meeting 23 February 2021

Recording of Parent Council Meeting 23 February 2021

Q&A for the Parent Countil meeting 23 February 2021