Member of the Week - Inverness High School
Inverness High School derives originally from the Free Church Institution which was founded after the Disruption of 1843. After incorporating Raining’s School, it moved to the premises now occupied by Crown Primary School on Kingsmills Road. The Technical School in Church Street became a department of the High School, and in 1937 the entire school moved to its present site. Renamed the Technical High School, it specialised in providing vocational and technical courses, in addition to a full range of academic subjects. In 1959, the name changed to Inverness High School.
When Comprehensive Education was introduced, the technical specialisation ended and the High School became an area comprehensive school, providing a full range of courses. The High School drew its pupils from the area of the town lying west of the River Ness, as far as Beauly and Cannich; and catering for a small number of pupils from the far west of Inverness-shire, who spent the week in a hostel in town and returned home at weekends.
At its maximum, the school roll was over 1600 pupils, with over 100 staff. Older members of the community may remember being taught in portakabins and temporary buildings on site. Following the opening of Charleston Academy in 1978, there was a general reduction of numbers but, since the start of the 1990s, the roll has started to rise again and currently stands at 540 pupils.
Inverness High School is now very much a ‘town’ school and inspires a fierce loyalty in former pupils and members of the community. They are blessed with the building being a magnificent listed example of Art Deco architecture, and it is often photographed by students and architects from the UK and overseas.
We spoke to John Rutter, Headteacher since April 2014 and previously depute head at Ross High and North Berwick High in East Lothian. About his career his history and currently role, John said: “Formerly a journalist, tour leader and scientist working in overseas development, my role in the school is wide-ranging and constantly varied but I am particularly concerned with the strategic direction of the school, staffing and financial management.”
We asked John why he would like Inverness High School to feature as member of the week: “The work we do in the school, together with employers and the chamber on ensuring positive destinations for our pupils is not always recognised in a world governed by media concerned only with high level academic success. Our work with employers in developing skills the workforce of the future needs is crucial in this respect and publicising this work with our chamber colleagues will be very useful.”
John told us about their successful annual residential experience for their S1s: “For the past five years we have run a very successful residential experience for our S1s to the Abernethy Trust in Nethybridge. The trip promotes team-working and problem-solving skills and is part of our programme to develop such aspects of employability in our pupils. The trip is completely inclusive and fully funded – in our catchment area we cannot discriminate on ability to pay. Over the years we have been very lucky in gaining funds from the Ward Discretionary budgets but this is becoming increasingly difficult and we are seeking sponsors to help pay for the experience to benefit the Inverness workforce of the future.”
John told us about the IHS’s exciting new app and refurbishment: “We launched a new school app to help improve our parental engagement on Monday, 9th September. On a wider note we are going through a £14 million refurbishment programme which, while very disruptive, should bring the school building up to the standard required for 21st century education.”
John shared with ICC the school’s plans for over the next 12 months: “The main thrusts of our school improvement plan are: the beginnings of a review into our broad general education and how to best serve our pupils from S1 through to S3; the development of the developing the young workforce agenda including a look at how best to further incorporate the career education standards into the curriculum and improve access to wider achievement courses for pupils. Over-riding everything is our determination to reduce the poverty-related attainment gap and to raise achievement for all.”
We asked John what he values most about his Inverness Chamber membership: “The ability to communicate directly with employers and the excellent support we receive from the chamber’s developing the young workforce team.”
John provided his top-tip for our school members to maximise their membership: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help and to engage with the chamber’s member services – there is a wealth of experience available, a lot of which is untapped by school members at present.”