Kilmarnock Academy

Kilmarnock Academy is a state-funded secondary school situated in Kilmarnock, Scotland, currently located on Sutherland Drive in the New Farm Loch area of the town.[3] The former original building in Elmbank Drive was erected in 1807. The school can be traced back to the 1630s when it was known as 'Kilmarnock Burgh School'.[4] The school's operations are overseen by East Ayrshire Council. The current head teacher is David Rose who was appointed in June 2015 on an acting basis,[5] and was made the permanent Head Teacher of Kilmarnock Academy (the newly formed school following merger with James Hamilton Academy) in April 2017.[6]

Kilmarnock Academy
Sutherland Drive

, ,

Coordinates55.609°N 4.493°W / 55.609; -4.493
TypeState-funded secondary school
MottoAspire Together, Achieve Together
Established1630s (as Kilmarnock Burgh School)
1807 (Kilmarnock Academy)
Local authorityEast Ayrshire Council
Head TeacherDavid Rose
Staff97 (FTE)[1][2]
HousesFleming, Burns, Orr, Wallace
Colour(s)Maroon, gold, white and blue
PublicationThe Goldberry, 1888-1954
Affiliated schoolsJames Hamilton Primary School, Loanhead Primary School, Whatriggs Primary School, Onthank Primary School
BlogKilmarnock Academy Blog

The former school campus located in Elmbank Drive closed in March 2018 following the merger of Kilmarnock Academy and James Hamilton Academy to allow the creation of a new secondary school which is located within the new William McIllvaney Campus to allow educational provision to transfer to a newly constructed building located in the New Farm Loch area of the town which was home to the then existing James Hamilton Academy building.[7] The name Kilmarnock Academy was retained for the new secondary school, whilst the name James Hamilton was transferred to the new primary school and early childhood centre.[7]

Kilmarnock Academy is one of only two schools in the UK, and the only school in Scotland, to have educated two Nobel Prize Laureates – Alexander Fleming, discoverer of Penicillin, and John Boyd Orr, 1st Baron Boyd-Orr, for his scientific research into nutrition and his work as the first Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The only other school which matches Kilmarnock Academy in this accolade is Eton College.[8]

On 27 March 2018, Kilmarnock Academy on Elmbank Drive, the school's location since the late 1800s, closed its doors to pupils for the last time, with all pupils and staff transferring to the newly-built building on Sutherland Drive between 17 and 18 April 2018.[9]

History and building complex

Elmbank Drive site

The school consists of four parts. The 'old building', a listed building in use since 1898 and part of the initial Kilmarnock Academy; the 'new building,' a larger building opened in 1967 and connected to the old building by a link corridor; the Technical Extension which opened in 1997 and is now where the schools computing and music departments are situated, and the P.E. building, where the Physical Education department is situated. This is also rented out to groups such as a Tae Kwon Do club and local football teams. Next to the school is the "Old Tech," formerly Kilmarnock Technical School, which opened in 1910 as part of the Academy. It is also listed, but is no longer part of the school; it was closed in 1997 due to a reduction in student numbers, caused by a restructuring of educational resources in the area. The building remained closed, and reopened in 2006 as luxury housing, due to its prime location directly next to the Dick Institute, the town's primary library and museum, and the centre of town.

It can trace its history back to the local burgh school founded in the 1630s and the first school to bear the name was established in 1807. In 1898 the school was moved to its current location and in the early 1900s the school acquired the Kilmarnock Technical School for its use. From 1945 it was a state co-educational grammar school. It became a comprehensive school in 1968 and fees were abolished for students attending Kilmarnock Academy in 1945 following World War II.[10] For the first time since opening, Kilmarnock Academy appointed its first woman Head Teacher, Carole Ford, who served in the position from 1997-2011.[10]

At one point, Kilmarnock Academy provided both primary and secondary education to Kilmarnock's school children. The school at one point was a fee-paying school until 1969 when it became a government funded state school.[11]

Sutherland Drive site

The William McIllvanney Campus, containing Kilmarnock Academy, James Hamilton Primary School and Early Childhood Centre and a Gaelic education unit, was handed over to East Ayrshire Council from Keir Construction on 30 March 2018.[12] The former Kilmarnock Academy and James Hamilton Academy both closed their doors to pupils on Tuesday 27 March 2018 and officially closed on 29 March 2018 after staff had decanted both buildings of furniture and resources. The new Kilmarnock Academy opened to pupils on Wednesday 18 April 2018.[3]

School structure

The former Kilmarnock Academy building is situated upon a hill in Elmbank Drive. Because of this, it is a dominant building in the Kilmarnock skyline.

Until June 2015, the headteacher was Bryan Paterson, assisted by his Depute Headteachers G Kerr & E Walker.[13] Paterson assumed the role of headteacher in August 2011 after the retiral of Carole Ford. The Head Teacher, David Rose (2015–present) was employed on a temporary basis, but was given the post of Head Teacher at the new school which incorporated James Hamilton Academy. This investment of £45.303m for the new Kilmarnock campus, has been named William McIlvanney Campus. Work on the new 'super school' started in March 2016 and was handed over to East Ayrshire Council in March 2018.

New school development (2013–2018)

In 2013, East Ayrshire Council launched a consultation report on the future of the education provision at a number of primary and secondary schools in the Kilmarnock area, including James Hamilton Academy, New Farm Primary School, New Farm Early Childhood Centre and Silverwood Primary School.[14] This report put forward the case for educational provision at the schools coming to an end in term 2016/2017 (however, as of January 2017, this has run over time and projected now for 2018 completion), and the named educational establishments merge into one campus.[14] This would lead to the creation of a "superschool", merging James Hamilton Academy and Kilmarnock Academy together, as well as New Farm Primary, New Farm Early Childhood Centre and Silverwood Primary together.[15] In 2016, the decision was made to house these schools on the newly formed William Mcilvanney campus, named after the late William McIlvanney who was born in Kilmarnock and best-selling crime author. The secondary provision will remain as Kilmarnock Academy, whilst the primary provision is renamed as James Hamilton Primary and Early Childhood Centre.[16]

On 12 October 2016, Deputy First Minister of Scotland in his capacity of Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney, visited the site of the construction for the new school where he laid the foundation stone for the new structure.[7] Pupils from each of the schools involved in the merger – Kilmarnock Academy, James Hamilton Academy, Silverwood Primary School and New Farm Primary School, choose items to bury in a time capsule underneath the structure of the new school.[17]

The new school campus was projected to open in March 2018.[7] In March 2018, it was announced by both East Ayrshire Council and Centrestage Communities Ltd. that as part of the Scottish Government Regenerational Grant Funding that the old Kilmarnock Academy building, which is listed, will be used as the new home for Kilmarnock-based charity Centrestage.

Rectors/Head Teachers

The following list is of rectors of Kilmarnock Academy.[18] In recent years, the term 'rector' has been phased out to introduce the title of 'Head Teacher'. Bryan Paterson was Head Teacher from August 2011 until June 2015, taking up the post of Head Teacher at Trinity Academy, Edinburgh.[19] Carole Ford, head teacher from 1997-2011, was the first woman to serve the school as Head Teacher and remains the only female to have taken up the headship position of the school as of January 2017.[10]

  • William Thomson (1808-1830)
  • Alexander Harkness (1830-1851)
  • William Taylor (1851-1852)
  • Alexander Smith (1852-1869)
  • George Younger (1869-1873)
  • George Smith (1873-1876)
  • Hugh Dickie (1876-1904)
  • David Murray (1904-1907)
  • Dr James Clark (1907-1926)
  • Alexander Cumming (1926-1938)
  • Robert McIntyre (1938-1964)
  • James Hislop OBE (1964-1977)
  • Frank Donnelly (1977-1997)
  • Carole Ford (1997-2011)
  • Bryan Paterson (2011-2015)[19]
  • David Rose (2015–present)[5]

Notable former pupils

Kilmarnock Academy is one of the few schools in the world to have educated two Nobel laureates: Alexander Fleming and John Boyd Orr.[20]

Notable alumni

Grammar school

Church of Scotland clergy

A number of alumni are Church of Scotland ministers who have held high office or are otherwise well-known church figures:


  13. "Kilmarnock Academy Management Team". Retrieved May 3, 2011.
  20. Kilmarnock Academy Website
  21. "Kilmarnock Academy - News Archive". Retrieved 2016-08-09.
  22. "Kilmarnock Academy ex-pupil is new Church of Scotland Moderator". Kilmarnock Standard. Retrieved 2012-01-22.
  23. "K.A. famous former pupils - index and Neil Dickson profile". Retrieved 2012-01-22.
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