Dollar Academy

Dollar Academy, founded in 1818 by benefaction of trader John McNabb, is an independent co-educational day and boarding school in Scotland. The open campus occupies a 70-acre (280,000 m2) site in the centre of the town of Dollar in Central Scotland. The school is at the foot of the Ochil Hills and is surrounded by Clackmannanshire countryside.

Dollar Academy
Academy Place

, ,
FK14 7DU

TypeIndependent day and boarding school
MottoJuventutis Veho Fortunas
(Latin: "I carry the fortunes of youth")
FounderCaptain John McNabb
Chairman of GovernorsProfessor James McEwen
Rectorian munro
Age5 to 18
Enrolmentc. 1250
Colour(s)          Navy Blue & White
PublicationFortunas (biannual publication)
School newspaperThe Galley Student Newspaper
Former pupilsOld Academicals


There are over 1250 pupils at Dollar Academy, making it the sixth largest independent school in Scotland. On a single campus, it is divided into three separate schools: the Prep School (Preps I to V for ages 5–10), the Junior School (Juniors I and II for ages 10–12) and the Senior School (Forms I to VI for ages 12 going on 18).

Around 80 of the pupils are boarders; the rest are day pupils, either from the village of Dollar itself or from the surrounding counties of Clackmannanshire, Stirlingshire, Perth and Kinross and Fife. Just 20% of the boarding pupils are from overseas, representing less than 4% of the total school roll. The remaining 80% of boarding students are British nationals.

Dollar Academy has over 70 sports and recreational activities on offer to pupils after the school day and over the weekend.


Dollar Academy follows the Scottish education system, with pupils sitting a mixture of Intermediate 2 and National 5 examinations at the end of Form IV and Highers at the end of Form V/VI. Most courses in Form VI are at Advanced Higher level and a number of pupils study the Scottish Baccalaureate. All standard subjects are on offer at Dollar Academy. The school also teaches Classical Studies, Latin, Greek, and Mandarin. IT training is provided to all, and music, art, and drama are compulsory for Forms 1 and 2.

Combined Cadet Force

Dollar Academy's CCF (Combined Cadet Force) have won the Scottish Schools' CCF skills competition (formerly the Highland CCF Tactical Competition) several times and most recently in 2014, 2016 and 2017. Dollar Academy's CCF was also the first Scottish CCF to win the Welbeck DSFC Cadet Leadership Challenge in 2013 and repeated this in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2019. The school is also the only Scottish school in the last fifty years to win the Ashburton Shield at Bisley, winning in 2005 and 2013.

The school has two main pipe bands. The "A" band won the Scottish Schools CCF Pipes and Drums competition every year from 2000 to 2012 and 2014 and 2015,[1][2] as well as winning the RSPBA World Pipe Band Championships in 2010, 2014 and 2015. In 2013, the band was placed first at the last "Major of the season, the Cowal Gathering. In 2015, the band won the Scottish, British, United Kingdom, European and World Championships,[3] leading to them being awarded the title "Champion of Champions". Additionally, the Novice, or "B" band won the British, Scottish and European Championships in 2015,[4] and was crowned "Champion of "Champions"[5] as a result of their success throughout that season.


Dollar was founded in 1818 after Captain John McNab or McNabb. He captained, owned and leased out many ships over the decades and it is known that at least four voyages transported slaves to the West Indies in 1789-91[6], forty years before the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. McNabb bequeathed part of his fortune – £65,000 – to provide "a charity or school for the poor of the parish of Dollar where I was born".[7]

McNabb died in 1802 but it took another sixteen years before the school opened it doors after much debate about how to use the bequest. The lands were granted by the local laird, Craufurd Tait of Harviestoun (d.1832).

It was in 1815 that the Rev. Andrew Mylne, Minister of Dollar, along with fellow Trustees conceived of a great academy to educate the boys and girls of the parish, and also pupils from outside Dollar, who would board with teachers. Full fees would be charged to 'non-residenters', while parish pupils would pay fees on a sliding scale, with some receiving free education. To attract pupils from outside the parish, excellent teachers would be appointed.

Mylne engaged the architect William Henry Playfair who designed a fitting structure with a splendid Doric façade. John McNabb's School or Dollar Institution (later Dollar Academy) was finally completed in 1821. In 1818, teaching started, with Rev Andrew Mylne as the first school Rector.

The original campus was landscaped into several gardens including two ponds. In the 19th century the school had a strong emphasis on horticulture, and all pupils were allocated plots in the extensive school grounds. Several curious rarities exist in the school grounds in arboricultural terms, including several sequoias. In the 19th century, Dollar pupils sat the Cambridge Examinations or the Indian Civil Service Examinations.

John McNabb's coffin was discovered in the early 1930s in the crypt under Old Gravel Lane Meeting House in London. Former pupils had his remains cremated, and the ashes of Captain John McNabb now rest above the Bronze Doors of the school founded in his name.


The principal school building was designed by Edinburgh architect William Henry Playfair. The interior originally included stepped seating as might be found in university lecture theatres of the day.[8]

The interior of the Playfair building was gutted by a fire in 1961, but Playfair's Greek-style outer facades remained intact. The interior was rebuilt on a plan based on central corridors with equal sized classrooms on both sides. An extra (second) floor was cleverly concealed, greatly increasing the total available space. The school was re-opened in 1966 by former pupil Lord Heyworth, having been visited by The Queen and Prince Philip in 1963. The assembly hall was rebuilt after the fire. The school library is a "whispering gallery" because of its domed ceiling.

There are numerous other buildings on the campus, including the Dewar Building for science, the Younger Building for mathematics and business studies, the Gibson Building for music, the Iona Building for home economics, the Maguire Building for sport, art and drama and the most recent building the Westwater building . There are also several rugby, cricket and football pitches, and new all-weather surface for hockey and tennis. Sport is supported by the Boys' and Girls' pavilions, the Games Hall and the swimming pool. In 2005, the new Maguire Building was opened with facilities for Art, PE and Drama and with the circular Captain's Room for conferences and meetings.

In 2016 the Westwater Building was added, named after Pte George Philip Westwater, an FP killed in the First World War at Gallipoli. This building contains the Modern Languages department and two Economics classrooms.[9]

Boarding houses

The original boarding accommodation was built at the same time as the original Playfair Building. These houses were situated in Academy Place to accommodate teachers and boarders. Over the years these buildings have been modernised and study bedrooms introduced. The existing boarding houses are all refurbished period buildings.

There are spaces for 99 boarders in the Academy's three boarding houses. Both weekly boarders (Monday – Friday) and full boarders are accepted.

  • Argyll House – girls aged 10–18
  • Heyworth House – girls aged 10–18
  • McNabb–Tait House – boys aged 10–18

Though the majority of pupils do not board, every pupil belongs to a House. Originally there were five boys' houses, instituted in 1911, hence the term quint. The Quint Cup and House Cup are awarded annually at Prize-Giving. Today there are four quints:


Former pupils' children are traditionally put into the same house as their father, mother, brother, or sister. The names of quints and houses were merged in 2009; previously, male quints followed the names: Castle (Atholl), Devon (Mar), Glen (Stewart), and Hill (Argyll). The fifth male quint was McNabb (purple) but this was dropped in 1937.


Each year full colours and half colours are awarded to senior pupils for achievement in sporting or cultural pursuits. These awards merit piping on the school blazer (blue for cultural, white for sporting) and/or a distinctive blazer badge. Internationalists' Award ties are presented to pupils, prep, junior and senior, who has represented their country in sporting or cultural activities.[10] Sixth Form pupils are also given a distinctive silver tie, and prefects wear white and blue bands round the blazer sleeves.

The senior six (or top six) are the most senior prefects in the school, elected by a ballot of Forms IV, V and VI. Those with the highest numbers of votes are selected for the "College of Cardinals", who vote among themselves to elect a Head Boy, Head Girl and two deputies for each.

Two school songs were composed in 1912, but neither was officially adopted. "Here in a Fair Green Valley…" by the poet W. K. Holmes and music by Marc Anthony became the official school song sung at prize-giving each year between 1929–1993. This was then replaced by the Academy Hymn, "O God of Bethel!" until 2007, when the popularity and metaphorical significance of "Will Your Anchor Hold?" (Hymn 412) caused it to be adopted for this purpose.


  • The Rev. Dr Andrew Mylne DD (1818–1850)
  • The Rev. Dr Thomas Burbidge (1850–1851)
  • The Rev. John Milne (1851–1868)
  • The Rev. Dr William Barrack (1868–1878)
  • George Thom (1878–1902)
  • Charles Dougall (1902–1923)
  • Hugh Martin (1923–1936)
  • Harry Bell (1936–1960)
  • James Millar (1960–1962) – Acting Rector
  • Graham Richardson (1962–1975)
  • Ian Hendry (1975–1984)
  • Lloyd Harrison (1984–1994)
  • John Robertson (1994–2010)
  • David Knapman (2010–2019)
  • Ian Munro (current Rector)[11]

Prize day speakers

This list is incomplete, and lists speakers from 1937 to the present. The suffix FP denotes a former pupil of the Academy.

  • 1937 Rev George Blair
  • 1938 Sir William Robieson, Governor
  • 1939 Sir John Forbes Watson
  • 1940 Rev W S Wilson, Governor
  • 1941 Col Sir Alexander Russell, FP
  • 1942 Very Rev Principal G S Duncan, Governor
  • 1943 Rev W D O Rose MA, Governor
  • 1944 Professor James M Mackintosh, Governor
  • 1945 Sir W McNair Snadden, FP
  • 1946 Col E C Cross, FP
  • 1947 Sir Laurence Heyworth, FP
  • 1948 John D Westwood, FP
  • 1949 Rev Canon G. K. Sturrock Clarke, Governor
  • 1950 Rev Dr J. Lynn, Governor
  • 1951 Peter Norwell, FP & Governor
  • 1952 Dr P. P. Brodie, Governor
  • 1953 James A. Williamson, FP
  • 1954 Alan C. Mackay, FP
  • 1955 Prof. T. Erskine Wright, Governor
  • 1956 Air Vice Marshal Ronald Graham
  • 1957 The Earl of Mar and Kellie, Governor
  • 1958 Captain J. P. Younger, CBE
  • 1959 Dr T. Crouther Gordon, Governor
  • 1960 Douglas Cruickshank, FP
  • 1961 Dr William Parker, FP
  • 1962 David Walker, Governor
  • 1963 W. Kersley Holmes, FP
  • 1964 Col. S. J. L. Hardie
  • 1965 W. McFarlane Gray
  • 1966 Dr T. L. Cottrell
  • 1967 Prof. J. Bennett Millar, Governor
  • 1968 George Sweet, FP
  • 1969 Frank Clark, FP
  • 1970 Lt Gen. Sir Derek Lang; Commander-in-Chief of the Army in Scotland
  • 1971 Sheriff J. Irvine Smith
  • 1972 Dr Colin Miller
  • 1973 Sir Charles Illingworth; surgeon
  • 1974 John Webster, FP
  • 1975 Prof Nisbet, FP
  • 1976 Dr Crammond
  • 1977 Prof. Donald MacKay, FP
  • 1978 Rev Dr Peter P. Brodie, Governor; Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1978
  • 1979 Professor A. G. M. Campbell, FP
  • 1980 Hector Munro, CBE
  • 1981 John Cameron of Balbuthie, CBE, FP
  • 1982 R. deC Chapman, FP
  • 1983 Prof. Christopher Blake, FP
  • 1984 Sir Ian Morrow, FP
  • 1985 James Miller, FP
  • 1986 Dennison Berwick; travel writer
  • 1987 Group Captain Eric King, FP
  • 1988 Prof. Struther Arnott
  • 1989 Chief Constable Ian Oliver
  • 1990 Janet Caird, FP
  • 1991 Prof. Lalage Bown
  • 1992 R. Macleod, FP
  • 1993 C. Peter Kimber
  • 1994 Klaus-Jurgen Moll
  • 1995 R. deC Chapman, FP
  • 1996 Norman Shanks
  • 1997 Jacqueline Smith, FP
  • 1998 Lt Col. Derek Napier, FP
  • 1999 Joanna Trollope, OBE; novelist
  • 2000 Dr Andrew Cubie, FP;
  • 2001 Andrew Neil; editor, The Sunday Times; chairman, Sky TV; owner, The Business, The Spectator
  • 2002 Eileen Kamm
  • 2003 George Reid, MSP, FP; Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament
  • 2004 Gerald Malone, MP; former Conservative Minister for Health
  • 2005 Alex Salmond, MP, MSP
  • 2006 Caroline Flanagan; President, Law Society of Scotland
  • 2007 Professor Duncan Rice, Principal of the University of Aberdeen
  • 2008 Fraser Nelson, FP; editor, The Spectator
  • 2009 Johanna Boyd, FP
  • 2010 Keith M Brown, FP
  • 2011 Abeer Macintyre
  • 2012 Sir Brian Souter
  • 2013 Professor Christopher Riley
  • 2014 Mr Kenneth MacDonald
  • 2015 Dr Steven Greer
  • 2016 Mr Mark Beaumont
  • 2017 Professor John Curtice
  • 2018 Rt Hon Lord Keen of Elie PC QC, FP
  • 2019 Alison Baum OBE & Ainsley Harriott

Former pupils

Academia and science


Media and arts



Royal or noble


  • David Greig, landowner
  • Charles William Maxwell Heddle, businessman
  • Lord Heyworth of Oxton, Chairman of Unilever and ICI
  • Sir Ian Morrow, businessman
  • Gregor Lawson, co-founder of morphsuits
  • Sir Wei Yuk – nineteenth-century Hong Kong businessman and legislator
  • Sir William Reid - mining engineer and joint author of the "Reid Report" on the state of British mining
  • Skye Scott – Director SLSV Limited



Notable teachers

  • Andrew Bell (1753–1832), educationalist and divine (Mathematics Master)
  • Patrick Gibson (1782–1829), landscape painter (Professor of Painting)
  • William Tennant (1784–1848), linguist and poet (Master of Classical and Oriental Languages)
  • Prof David Laird Adams (1837–1892) (Classical and Oriental languages)[13]
  • Jilly McCord (History and Modern Studies Teacher)


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