A NEW year and a new term for the High School of Dundee always fills Lise Hudson, the Rector, with excitement.

At the High School of Dundee, school is an extension of family and everyone comes back with renewed enthusiasm for what lies ahead.

The Scottish Farmer: Dundee High

“We had a terrific final term of 2023 with our Pipe Band playing at the Festival of Remembrance in the Caird Hall in November and our First XV rugby team contesting the Scottish Schools U18 Shield final at Murrayfield,” says Mrs Hudson.

“It has been wonderful to see our Pipe Band go from strength to strength, performing at Dundee University graduations and other public events.

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“These are examples of the sorts of co-curricular activities and opportunities which allow us to provide a truly deep learning experience, enabling our pupils to develop the kinds of transformative life skills – teamwork, confidence, initiative, creativity, resilience – which are essential in today’s world while at the same time having fun.”

The Scottish Farmer: Dundee High

The school explores many different pathways with its young people and, ultimately, it’s about developing skills, being innovative and looking ahead to ensure that pupils are equipped with the skills they will need to thrive now and in tomorrow’s world, says Mrs Hudson.

She adds: “In the Secondary school there are innovation, enterprise and STEM skills courses which allow pupils the chance to work on real-world projects with local businesses. We are the only school that includes this timetabled into our formal curriculum for all S1 and S2. We benefit from specialist staff, state-of-the-art labs, equipment, and a focus on digital skills.”

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This innovative approach led to the school winning the Future Skills category in the 2023 Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce Champion Awards.

The Scottish Farmer: Dundee High

Year on year, around 95% of the school’s leavers move into higher education across the UK and beyond, including the top Scottish universities and both Oxford and Cambridge. In 2023, 96% of leavers secured their first choice of the university offers they received.

Mrs Hudson says: “We have a record number of young people choosing STEM disciplines at university, with business currently close.

“Medicine is also another discipline which the school has a reputation for.”

However, she adds: “The ultimate goal is not just university. Yes, it’s important for many and we are proud of our exam results which open doors.

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“But in recent years, increasingly the school is seeing pupils looking to enter employment directly, pursue experience and skills-enhancing gap years, or seek out apprenticeships in rapidly developing areas of work.

“It’s never a one-size-fits-all outcome – it’s about nurturing young people to pursue what they are passionate about, what they enjoy and what’s right for them.”

The curriculum allows for timetables to be built around individual choices, supported by a comprehensive co-curriculum and extensive pastoral support which together helps pupils to discover who they are, find their confidence and strengths, and begin the journey to where they want to be in the future.

Mrs Hudson also points out that the early years are the “bedrock” for young people to have the best learning experience

“Our primary school years are designed to give our young pupils a flying start,” she says. “A focus on developing the crucial core skills like reading, writing and arithmetic and providing positive challenging within a nurturing environment, is combined with a focus on making learning fun, engaging and wide-ranging.

“Add in the expert input of secondary subject specialists at key stages and you have an environment where learning really takes off.”

Its location in the heart of Dundee means that the school is very much part of the community and with its wide catchment, dedicated bus routes from Angus, Fife, Perthshire and beyond provide a convenient and safe way for pupils to travel to and from school.

The High School of Dundee is holding an Open Doors Week from February 19 to 23, with tours and taster days available throughout.

Visits can be arranged at any time though by contacting the school’s friendly admissions team.