Mearns Schooling

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Early schools in Scotland came under three headings. There were parochial schools, run by the church, private schools and charity schools which varied in the quality of the education offered, depending on who ran them. The parochial schools charged fees and were therefore attended by children whose parents could afford to pay and a dominie was in charge.

In Mearns, Dr George McLatchie, the parish minister, held a school in the church manse and tutored students  who hoped to gain University entrance. The most noted of these pupils is John Wilson (1785-1854)  Essayist  and Moral Philosopher, who was was appointed Professor of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh University in 1820.

schools1In Mearns, the parochial school was sited in the glebe of Mearns Kirk, approximately where the church manse stands today. In 1792, Dr George McLatchie reported in the First Statistical Account of Scotland that the dominie’s salary was  £8-6-8d . In addition, he was paid 30/- per annum for acting as Session Clerk of the church and fees charged for lessons were also his to keep. The fees charged depended on the subject and ranged from 1/6d per quarter for English to 5/- for Latin. Pupils who were too poor to pay could attend if their names were approved by the Kirk Session

In 1842, in the Second Statistical Account  the schoolroom is described as “one of the largest and airiest of any in the west of Scotland”. Mr Jackson was the dominie and he taught Latin, geography, arithmetic, English grammar, reading and writing to 103 pupils. Mr Jackson was described as “a very able and excellent teacher” and was paid an annual salary of £34-4-0d

Mr Hunter was the dominie  from 1847 until 1884 and he was commended in Government reports for his teaching of Latin, Greek, mechanics, algebra and geometry. It was noted that he did not profess to be skilled in sewing and this was taught to 41 girls by “a female of the village”.

The Education Act (Scotland) of 1872 made schooling compulsory for all children aged 5 - 13 and church schools were handed over to School Boards. The Mearns School Board met for the first time on 29 March 1873 and in May a census revealed that out of 576 children in the parish 180 did not attend school.

schools2Mr James Dunlop Hamilton of Greenbank, who was the first Chairman of the School Board, bought and donated land for the building of a new school and a schoolmaster’s house. and  also funded the  building of the school .

Mearns Public school opened in 1876 and Mr Hunter became the first Master, a post he held until his retirement in 1884.   On the opening day on 11 September, 144 children attended, but within a month the number had risen to about 230. His staff numbered three or four teachers, of whom one would be a  pupil-teacher, a senior pupil who had progressed to “teacher status”. All the children in the area attended until 1949, when St Joseph’s Primary opened in Clarkston and Roman Catholic pupils were transferred there.

schools3Pupils attended until the age of thirteen, with the exception of pupils who were able to study higher grades. These pupils had to travel to Shawlands Academy until 1937, when Eastwood Senior Secondary  (now Williamwood. High School) opened. In 1962  Woodfarm Junior Secondary opened and Mearns School became a primary school.  

A leaving certificate report from 1945 can be read here.

In 1966 Eastwood Secondary School opened in Newton Mearns in the grounds of Capelrig House. At that time this provided a two-tier system of secondary education. Today all the secondary schools are comprehensive.

As the population in the area grew, an extension to Mearns School was opened in 1963,  but in 2003 the old school was closed and a new school opened. The access road to the new school was named Hunter Drive, in honour of the first Master. Sadly the old school was demolished to make way for the development of the shopping centre.

schools4There was also a school at Polloktoun, (left) but little is known of its history. Once a ruin, it  is a now private house. In the 1850s, a school was established at Loganswell (right) It closed in 1928 when the seven pupils and Mrs. Bell their teacher, transferred to Mearns Public School. Today It is also a private house. schools5

Little is known of the private schools in Mearns, but there is a record of memories of one. Miss Margaret Osbourne, daughter of Osbourne the grocer, ran a small school in the back parlour of the Osbourne’s home, Broomlea. Rae Mackinlay, daughter of Dr Mackinlay  the local doctor, attended Miss Osbourne’s school until she was eleven.

There were never more than two or three pupils and the curriculum was the  3 Rs, piano and knitting. At the age of eleven Rae went to the Girls’ High in Glasgow for three years.schools6

In Mearns today there are four primary schools, Crookfur, Kirkhill, Mearns and St Cadoc’s, two secondary schools, Eastwood High and Mearns Castle High and one private school, Belmont House School.  St Ninian’s High School in Giffnock  provides secondary education for Roman Catholic pupils who live in Mearns.

The reputation which  Mearns had as an area which offered excellent education for its children, continues to the present day.

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