Balwearie High School

Balwearie High School is a non-denominational comprehensive secondary school at the west end of Kirkcaldy in Scotland. Balwearie serves around 1500 pupils aged from 11 to 18 and includes a Department of Additional Support (DAS for short) for children with Additional Support Needs.

Balwearie High School
Balwearie High School – C Block
Balwearie Gardens

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TypeSecondary School
Motto"To Strive, To Seek"
EstablishedNovember 16, 1964[1] (junior secondary)
1972 (secondary school)
RectorNeil McNeil
Age11 to 18
Enrolment1547 (September 2016)[2]
HousesGrange, Kilrie, Piteadie, Tyrie
Colour(s)Blue, Black, Grey & Red                 

History and facilities

The school was initially a junior secondary school, before becoming a comprehensive school in 1972. It originally comprised two blocks, named C Block and T Block. The J block was added a few years later, housing a library and maths, geography, science, technical, and computing classrooms. This and the C Block is conjoined via a bridge corridor through the L (library) Block. There are also detached hut units housing a small number of classrooms. The school has two cafeterias — the L Block is used by first, second, and sixth year pupils; the C Block is used by third, fourth and fifth year pupils — as well as a breakfast club.[3]

Sporting facilities include:

  • a wooden floored gymnasium with gymnastic equipment
  • a gym with weight training facilities
  • a swimming pool
  • an indoor games area
  • Two dance studios
  • Classroom for P.E
  • outdoor tennis courts
  • football/rugby pitch
  • 400m running track
  • 1 Blaes hockey pitch
  • 1 astroturf pitch

There is also an auditorium with a stage area, with a full set of lighting and sound equipment. This was designed and created by the Art & Design Department & Farmer Facilities.

Outside school hours, the school functions as a community centre.

In January 1997, a radiator fault caused a fire in the school's music department, which is situated at the top floor of the C block. The fire began in the early hours of the morning following the schools 'Burns Night' celebrations. It was extinguished rapidly by the local fire brigade. The music department suffered the most through fire and water damages; however, each level beneath the third floor suffered fire damage as well. The school was closed for several days with students being allowed back in stages, with the senior students, who were in the final preparations for May exams, returning first.

There was a second fire on 29 June 2009 in the Games Hall and community use cafe shortly before 5pm; the damaged building was deemed safe, and the awards ceremony due that evening went ahead as planned. Pupils attended school the following day as usual.[4]


Current houses

The houses at Balwearie are named after various farms located on the outskirts of Kirkcaldy.

House Colour

Former houses

House Colour Year of


Stenhouse      2015 Stenhouse was a separate house for the school's DAS (Department of Additional Support), however in 2015, Stenhouse was abolished and pupils from the DAS joined the rest of the school in one of the other five houses. The fire assembly point bearing the houses' name remains on the bank of the running track with the other assembly points for year groups.
Raith      2019 Raith was fully absorbed into the remaining four school houses post-summer holidays of 2019.

Rectors of Balwearie High School

RectorStart of officeEnd of officeDuration (years)Comments
Tom Elder[5]196419706Rector when the school was officially opened.
Oliver McLauchlan[5]1970198818Successor to Tom Elder.
Gordon MacKenzie OBE[5]1988201022A graduate of the University of Strathclyde, with a Bachelor's degree in Economics and Accountancy. He then moved to Aberdeen University, where he spent a year completing his Teacher Training qualification. He is a past president of the Headteachers' Association of Scotland. Currently he is an external examiner for Aberdeen University and a member of the Learning and Teaching Scotland Advisory Council. In 2001 he was appointed an OBE for services to Secondary Education.
Dr James More[5]20102017[6]6Was depute headmaster from 2001 to 2010 after a spell as acting rector. He is also a former pupil and physics teacher at Balwearie.
Neil McNeil 2017[6] (ongoing) (ongoing) Formerly the Rector of Glenwood High School, Glenrothes.

Catchment area

The school's catchment area covers much of the south and west of Kirkcaldy, as well as Kinghorn, Burntisland and Auchtertool. Balwearie's associated primary schools are Auchtertool, Burntisland, Dunnikier, Kinghorn, Strathallan and Kirkcaldy West.


A high staying on rate is reflected in large numbers gaining employment, training or Further or Higher Education.

The school originally won a Charter Mark Award for excellence in public service in 2001, this has now been renewed. The school also has the Schools Curriculum Award.

Balwearie is known for having a large sciences department as well as a STEM programme started by former rector Dr James More which involves 6th year sciences students visiting catchment primary schools to encourage future Balwearie pupils to take an interest in science.

Recently pupils in an Alternative Curriculum Group won a Fife Excellence Award and the magazine club won the Scotsman/Royal Bank of Scotland ‘Design a Newspaper’. More recently, a Young Enterprise company in the school scooped two of the three trophies.

The school is also part of the Erasmus Programme, going on over the two sessions of 2015/16 and 2016/17.[7]

School Board and Parent Council

Balwearie is supported by a School Board and a Parent Council – the Balwearie High School Association. The Balwearie High School Association provides volunteers for many of the school's social events, including the biennial School Musical.

Notable former pupils


The school's motto is "To Strive, to Seek",[8] taken from the final line of Tennyson's Ulysses. The line ends " find, and not to yield."[9]

HMIe inspection

In February 2008 the school underwent an inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education(HMIe).[10]

In October/November 2017, a team of inspectors from Education Scotland visited Balwearie High School. The report can be viewed online.


  1. Clarke, Debbie (8 June 2014). "A golden landmark for Balwearie High". Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  2. "Summarised inspection findings - Balwearie High School" (PDF), Education Scotland, Scottish Government, 16 January 2018, retrieved 6 August 2018
  3. McCabe, Paul (29 September 2017). "£1000 to boost a Kirkcaldy school's breakfast club". Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  4. Fife Council, "Balwearie High School open as usual following fire in sports hall" Archived 9 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine, FifeDirect, 30 June 2009.
  5. "A golden landmark for Balwearie High".
  6. Scoon, Tanya (22 March 2017). "Kirkcaldy school rector set to leave post". Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  7. "BHS March 2016 Newsletter" (PDF). March 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 November 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  8. School, Fife Council,Balwearie High. "Welcome to Balwearie High School".
  9. "Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson". Poetry Foundation. 10 November 2017.
  10. "Balwearie Inspection Report" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 October 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2013.

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