We are pleased to welcome Anthony Simpson as our new Principal as of 1 August and are looking forward to recruiting a new Director of Development later this year. We have been planning for the return of the monthly lunches, run by the FP Club and supported by the Development Office along with the return of the former staff lunches, now being hosted by Norma Rolls and Bryan Lewis, both in the autumn term.
We are grateful to everyone who was able to contribute to our Access to Excellence appeal during the summer term and whose gifts have helped to offer an ESMS education to those without the means. We are pleased to announce there will be at least 25 pupils being supported by Access to Excellence from the start of term in August and applications are still being submitted and means tested throughout the summer break.
In the meantime, we are working on a replacement for our ESMS Connect platform, which gives pupils and young alumni the opportunity to search for parents and established alumni who can offer careers guidance and support, as well as mentoring opportunities. We hope to have this up and running and going through final tests in September, with a formal launch later in the term.
And finally, we have been enjoying speaking to some of our young alumni about their career development. We had a lovely chat with Christina and Maxwell, which you will read elsewhere in this newsletter, about their steps after school and how they are pushing their careers forward in different ways. We have also enjoyed reading the Collegian and Merchant Maiden and learning about all the many activities that have taken place across the schools this year.
The 26 children who will be walking the West Highland Way from 12 – 15 May have been out and about in recent weeks, training for the long days of walking ahead of them.
The children and their families have been busy at weekends getting out around the Pentlands and further afield on practice walks. From the Fife coastal path and Loch Leven, to Loch Ossian and West Lomond, all are keen to ensure they are fit and ready for the Challenge ahead, walking 55 miles of the West Highland Way to raise money for Future Hope, a charity focussed on helping vulnerable street children in Kolkata, India.
The families tell us there are plans for further walks over the Easter break, summiting peaks across Scotland and even further afield on family holidays.
What were your favourite subjects when you were at school?
PE (I played hockey at junior national level), Languages, History, English
When you left school, did you have aclear career path in mind?
Being completely honest, I didn’t! However, I did know that I wanted to work with people, help them and operate in a team environment.
Whilst studying, did you keep up with any extra-curricular activities that you enjoyed at school or did you follow new interests? If so, how did you balance this with studying?
Throughout university, I continued to play hockey at a high level, in the top National 1 league. I also enjoy dance and kept up my involvement with a school for children with learning difficulties and their annual dance show.
Did you find it tough getting your first role after graduating or was the pathway quite straightforward?
It is a competitive market getting your traineeship but I was specific with the firms I applied to, I could show I was genuinely passionate about their ethics and values in my interview. I think my varied CV (curriculum and interests) helped – there are many people out there with a law degree when you are applying for a traineeship, so it is about what makes you and your CV stand out.
What do you like the most about your job?
Building relationships with my clients and colleagues.
What has been the most challenging part of your career so far?
The early days are tough – you are learning the job, your role, the office environment and especially how to manage your time efficiently while maintaining the work life balance – but that comes with experience…and I am still learning!
You mentioned that you had received support from some inspirational mentors, can you tell us more about this support and how you feel it has helped you to progress your career?
My mentors and supervisors have played a huge role in my career development and becoming a partner at a young age. They have opened doors for me that I will be forever grateful for.
Do you have any advice for pupils at ESMS who might wish to follow a similar career path?
Be you; be open to opportunities and build up your CV with office/ legal experience where possible (explore summer internships); take yourself out your comfort zone; think about what makes you stand out and what you can do to be different, and believe in yourself!
What’s your fondest memory from your schooldays?
Friends, some of my best friends come from my school days. And I have lots of fond hockey memories too!
Did you go on to study after school or did you go straight into the Navy?
I did, I went to UWIST (University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology). I did a BSc in Maritime Geography there. Geography was my strongest subject at school and the maritime element was great. There was lots of time at sea doing hydrographic surveying, assessing fish stocks, understanding the physics of wave formation; all sorts of things – very different to a normal Geography degree. I did my interview for the Navy when I was still at school. I was 17 when I came down to Gosport and I was selected for a Navy bursary, so I got a little bit of money to go to university. It didn’t cover all the costs, but it was enough to tide me over for a bit. Then I went straight into the Navy after that.
What attracted you to a career in the Royal Navy?
I always wanted to go into the Navy. I’m quite lucky in that I didn’t struggle with what I wanted to do when I was young. I grew up in Dalgety Bay from the age of four and our house overlooked the Forth. My dad worked for the National Audit Office in the Rosyth dockyard when it was a naval base. There were annual Navy days at Rosyth that we went along to where we could clamber all over the ships. There were always ships going up and down the Forth which I could see from my house, so it was kind of hard to avoid the attraction. My next-door neighbour was always keen too. He joined a couple of years ahead of me and we are still great friends. I was a keen sailor as well, I was Captain of the sailing team when I was at school, and I used to race dinghies with my dad every weekend and then on my own in a Laser from my early teens. The only other option I considered was joining the Metropolitan Police, but in those days you couldn’t wear glasses and be in the Met so that sealed it for me and it was Navy all the way!
Did your experiences at school, e.g. CCF, influence your career choice?
They definitely did. I was keen anyway, but CCF helped to reinforce that I was doing the right thing. Although my reports may suggest otherwise, I enjoyed the structure and discipline at the school and that certainly helped when joining an organisation like the Navy. It’s not super strict discipline, but it is disciplined in that everyone knows what’s expected of them, how they are to behave and progress and that certainly helped.
Did you join the navy with a specific career path in mind or did that become clearer as you progressed through?
I knew what I was most interested in before I applied. When you go for the Admiralty Interview Board, you are trying to be accepted for a particular branch: warfare; one of the many engineering disciplines; or logistics and I went for the latter. It was called Supply in those days – Supply and Secretariat i.e. all things logistics and people. I guess in modern parlance that would equate to supply chain, finance, HR, legal, hotel services etc. As you get more senior you soon develop into broader roles where your specialisation is less important.
Tell us the most interesting part of your career so far?
This is more difficult as I don’t know where to start – I feel like I sound like a poster boy. I have had adventures all over the world from Hawaii in the west to New Zealand in the east; from north of the arctic circle and down to the Falklands. I’ve been to dozens and dozens of countries. I’ve been on operations in Afghanistan, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and the Gulf plus exercises in numerous countries. I’ve conducted earthquake planning in Nepal, working with big charities and the Nepali government. I’ve done disaster relief operations and evacuations in Africa, led a liaison team in South America and spent time in the Atacama Desert with Chilean Marines. I’ve seen ships launched and sunk. I’ve worked alongside lots of foreign militaries and navies. I’ve been scared out of my wits on more than one occasion, and I even won a gold medal for competition cookery – that was pretty scary in itself!
I’ve worked with all sorts of incredible people from local villagers to Princes and Presidents. Lots of people outside of the military too in industry and academia, in big charities and governments. Every job has been completely different. I would say the interesting bit is the variety of things I’ve managed to do. When you enter the Navy, you don’t know where you’re going to end up. It just depends on where your career takes you. I’ve just finished being the career manager for all the Captains and Colonels in the RN and Royal Marines which was a fantastic job in helping to shape and develop people’s careers. Overall, I feel I’ve been very lucky and had some fantastic jobs over the last 33 years.
What did you like about working in the Royal Navy?
Being part of a team, the people you work with and for, and being challenged. It’s not a 9-5 job where you turn up and you know what you’re going to do that day. You’re always being pushed, as well as being fully supported. As an Officer, in every job, you’re also responsible for supporting every member of your team, so you have to make sure you invest the time in their development, understanding and supporting their ambitions. Having that responsibility is a real privilege. I’ve been led by some really great people and there are a few whose leadership and lessons absolutely stick with me and have shaped how I live my life now. I like having to manage complexity and competing priorities; spinning multiple plates ensuring nothing falls to the ground. There’s no fat in the Navy, it’s all pretty lean, so everyone has to do their job, multitask and prioritise to be successful.
What did you dislike about working in the Royal Navy?
Perhaps in the early years not knowing what you were going to do next, particularly when looking at starting a family e.g. not knowing if I was going to be working away and coming back on weekends, or if we were going to have to relocate again. However, it is part of the job and you do get used to it. The Navy is very supportive of all the processes when you do have to move.
Tell me about the most challenging part of your career so far?
I would say that taking on new roles every 2-3 years is quite difficult as they can be very different to what you’ve done before. For example, in my first role as a Captain, I was running the UK’s network of Defence Attaches around the world, managing teams and supporting their families in over 90 countries. That involved everything from selection and training, to provision of vehicles, housing, communications, security, allowances, medical support etc and with people all over the globe, no two days were ever the same. I loved going into work knowing that something was going to surprise me almost every day. From that I came back to Portsmouth and with just a weekend in between, I was in a different role, working for three different bosses on several very different projects, including being the Programme Director for a £1.3billion shipbuilding project, ensuring we could support the new F35 Lightning II jet at sea, delivering new technology to the Navy such as 3-D printing on ships (not easy when it’s constantly moving about) and also being the lead liaison for a project with the American Navy. You always have to be prepared to throw yourself at jobs and learn quickly.
If you could give your younger self some advice, what would you say?
Enjoy every adventure, enjoy every job (even the dull bits) and don’t worry too much about the future. Every path takes you in a different direction and looking back is a waste of time. Many former pupils stay near Edinburgh or around Scotland and that ultimately suits them. I come back to Edinburgh once or twice a year, I absolutely love the place, but I’m glad I didn’t stay because the chance to travel and do something completely different has been amazing. Embrace everything because the good bits far outweigh any bad bits.
What are you thinking in terms of career development now that you’ve left the Navy?
My background is in operations, logistics and senior HR type of roles. I’ve had such a diverse career it’s hard to work out what I’d be best at in the future. For the first time in my life I’m quite uncertain about my next steps. I’m very interested in working in the charity sector – I’m a Trustee for a local autism charity here in Hampshire. I’m interested in continuing in public service. I know what I don’t want, which is to make rich people richer. I’m just not particularly motivated by profit. There are so many opportunities out there, I just don’t know. I’ll admit, I’m finding it a challenge to refine what I want to do, after having been largely told for the last 33 years what I’m going to do.
Is there anything you’d like to say to our pupils who are perhaps considering a career in the Royal Navy?
I’d say to consider it seriously and find out more. I think the Made in the Royal Navy adverts that you see on the TV, are excellent. What they portray about the friendships, the adventure and the camaraderie is true to a greater or lesser extent depending on your branch and which ships you serve on. They all show a pretty good variety of the options available and whatever you do in the RN, you will have experiences that few people get to enjoy and a lifetime of stories to tell. I would say don’t worry about the training. It can be hard going for a short while, but it is a gateway to a very different life than if you stayed at home. It certainly worked for me. It’s very popular, there are waiting lists for some branches and you have to be selected to get in but it’s definitely worth it. ESMS will set you up well for it.
Although in one sense it seems strange to be writing for the final time as a member of the ESMS staff I am doing so in the full realisation that the time is right for me to move forward and to embrace the future and all the exciting opportunities which lie ahead.
I remember very clearly my first day working for the schools and even my first ever lesson in August 1974 teaching English to a Higher Set 4 in a portacabin behind Old College. I had been appointed to teach Classics as assistant to Barrie Fleet but, as there was not a full timetable available, I was asked to teach some English on the grounds that I could speak the language! I am not sure that would work today!
It would have been inconceivable to imagine that I would still be here almost 48 years later but in truth I never seriously considered leaving and the schools seemed happy for me to stay. I do not think that my decision reflected any lack of ambition but more the fact that I was able to fulfil so many of my ambitions working in what I continue to believe are the best schools in the country. Why would I have wanted to go anywhere else? My many years as a teacher, latterly as Headmaster and Vice Principal, served to remind me every day of just how extraordinary the pupils who have attended the schools are, a view reinforced in recent years by the privilege I have felt meeting and communicating with so many of them now that they are Former Pupils. They remain extraordinary!
I have shared too many memories already in recent months and will simply close by thanking every one of you for allowing me to play a very small part in your lives as pupils, former pupils, parents and colleagues. I will continue to follow the schools from afar, and hopefully attend major events from time to time. All that remains is for me to wish you every happiness in the future and to ask you to stay in touch with the schools and to support today’s and tomorrow’s young people in any way you can. We are all members for life of an incredible community and we all have so much to offer to each other.
Bryan Lewis, Director of Development, will leave ESMS at the end of this Spring term, when he will have completed almost 48 years of dedicated and loyal service to the Schools.
Bryan began his career with us back in 1974, when he was appointed as teacher of Classics and English at Stewart’s Melville College. In his 15 years at SMC he was appointed to a number of roles, including Housemaster of Cromarty, Head of Classics, and Head of Middle School. He was also 1st XV rugby coach for 6 years.
In 1989 he was appointed as Headmaster of the Junior School, a role he fulfilled with gusto for a remarkable 27 years. Our nine school values originate from Bryan’s initiative – he introduced them to the Junior School, and they were subsequently adopted by the Senior Schools. In 2001 he became Vice Principal of ESMS until he moved to take up the position of Director of Development in 2016.
During his time in the Junior School, he championed the Performing Arts at ESMS and nurtured our relationship with West End companies. As a result, over the years hundreds of our children have appeared in professional productions including Joseph, A Christmas Carol and The Secret Garden. We have also had strong links with the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo since our pupils first performed there in 2012. ESMS continues to provide the official Tattoo Choir, another of Bryan’s creative initiatives. On leaving the Junior School, Bryan said “I would love every Junior School child to enjoy a happy and fulfilled life as that means they will make a positive difference to the world in which they will live as adults”.
Bryan encouraged ESMS children to get involved in community and fundraising activities. Famously he led the whole of Primary 7 in a marathon walk across the Pentlands – all 208 children took part, many walking for several hours covering a distance of 26km and 9 peaks to raise funds for an Lagganlia Outdoor Learning Centre. He led a few other long distance walks involving groups of children and subsequently started what is now known as the P7 Challenge, an annual sponsored walk which sees around 26 children from P7 walk 55 miles of the West Highland Way to raise funds for a variety of charities chosen by the children.
In recognition of his services to education and charity Bryan was awarded an MBE in 2018.
As Director of Development he has worked tirelessly for the Schools over the last seven years. Access to Excellence, which provides an important element of our bursary funding, has been championed by Bryan. Bryan dedicated hours of his time to meeting with hundreds of alumni and members of the ESMS community, and connecting with as many as possible via digital means. He always aimed to help to boost the ESMS network of contacts and invite them to support a wide range of school initiatives, from offering careers insight to pupils throughout the school and assisting with curricular or extra-curricular objectives, to sponsoring pupils to attend ESMS or linking pupils and young alumni with mentors amongst the more established members of our community.
Bryan says “Once I made the decision to retire from my post as Junior School Headmaster I was very excited to be offered the opportunity to continue at ESMS as Development Director. There was much to look forward to but undoubtedly my main motivation was the chance to reconnect with former pupils of our schools in Edinburgh, throughout the UK and abroad.
It has been a pleasure and a privilege to learn something of the lives of so many of the ‘young people’ for whose education I was responsible throughout my teaching career. Everyone who has been an ESMS pupil, who has been the parent of an ESMS pupil, or who has taught or been otherwise employed in the schools, will always be a valued member of our amazing community and my one wish as I leave is that we should all continue to support each other in any way we can. It is of course the remit of Development Office colleagues to facilitate and grow all our support networks and I have no doubt that they will do so very successfully as a result of their enthusiasm, dedication and hard work.”
Linda Moule, ESMS Principal, said “The first time I heard Bryan address a large ESMS gathering it was at a Primary 7 Valedictory Prizegiving some 14 years ago in the TFC. Bryan has a remarkable and enviable ability to capture the mood and attention of an audience, and on this day in late June, I was thrilled to hear him quote one of my favourite writers, Khalil Gibran. Bryan chose Gibran’s wise words to deliver his message about the all-important relationship between children and parents. I cannot think of a better way to sum up Bryan’s outstanding contributions to our ESMS family than to turn to Gibran’s words: “Generosity is giving more than you can and pride is taking less than you need.””
“It has been a real pleasure working with Bryan over the years and we wish him all the best for the future.” ~Suzi
During summer 2021, the management of the Clubhouse at Inverleith transferred from the FP Club to the school. Now that Covid restrictions are lifting, bookings are once again being taken from the Community for meetings, events and other gatherings.
The Clubhouse is available to the ESMS community as well as external bookings for parties, dinners, functions and corporate events. We can also cater for weddings, funerals and fundraising events. We have two bookable rooms, the upstairs bar with a capacity of 60 and the downstairs function room with a capacity of 100. The Clubhouse is fully licenced throughout and catering in the venue is provided by Inspire who manage a range of catering options across all three school sites and has the flexibility to cover anything from simple teas and coffees right through to buffets and plated dinners.
The bar upstairs can host a variety of events in a variety of layouts. The views are amazing from the bar and the balcony, looking right over the pitches on both sides. There is an Amazon Prime membership with access to thousands of popular movies and TV shows as well as live streamed sports matches both via Amazon and on terrestrial channels.
The function room downstairs can seat up to 100 for a formal dinner and is very flexible for other layouts including theatre style, cabaret style and even a classroom layout for training events. An integrated PA system and a projector are both available in this space. Chairs are padded conference chairs and tables are rectangular and can be placed together for square dinner tables or boardroom style discussions. There is also a dance floor in the middle of the space which is perfect for ceilidhs and weddings.
The upstairs bar is open on Thursday evenings and Saturday all day for visitors to join for a drink.
To enquire about the Clubhouse and find out more, please contact the Clubhouse Manager, Ruth, on firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I began to reminisce on this blog, I had no clear plan about what I would include. There was so much I could have said about the schools, and the major changes in education over my career, but I did not set out to write my memoirs, and that has not changed!
As I have been sharing memories, other special moments have come to mind. Each month, I’ll add a new snippet below, which may stir your memories.
The Antiques No-show With the help of Dunedin Antiques, the School held an antiques valuation fundraising evening, which attracted a very large crowd. As a member of staff, I decided to join in by bringing along a very old chair for consideration, and I was delighted when I saw that it was one of 15 items selected for display on the stage.
As the expert went through the other 14 pieces, it appeared to me that the valuation estimates were increasing each time, so surely my chair, the very last item was something very special (and very valuable). However, my hopes were soon dashed, as the expert began to speak. He cautioned people not to get carried away by something very old because usually it was one of many copies, and not worth much more than firewood. My chair apparently was a perfect example!
A visit from Richard Branson On a rare visit to Scotland, Richard Branson spent over an hour chatting with children of all ages who encountered the same kinds of dyslexic challenges he had faced. He told them they were fortunate to be in school at a time when their challenges were recognised and addressed. In his day as a boarder at Stowe, he had been seen as a problem, so he had rebelled, and was eventually asked to leave. However, he was delighted to tell us that his headmaster had recognised his entrepreneurial talents, he predicted that the then 15-year-old Richard would either end up as a millionaire or in jail. Richard laughingly told us he had been proved correct on both fronts! We felt very privileged that someone with as little time as Richard Branson had spent an hour in our Junior School. The children who shared the time with him were both mesmerised and inspired.
I cannot remember why I thought that November 2006 was the perfect time to tell the world that our Junior School children learned to write with a fountain pen in Primary 6, and that each child owned their own pen. Perhaps it was linked to the recent implementation of our nine school values, which were based on our long-held realisation that children respond very well to high standards and expectations. Learning to write with a fountain pen is a challenge, which few children are given the chance to master, but to us the skill exemplified high standards and allowed children to show their commitment by having to work hard to master a new skill.
The real trigger was in fact the Sunday Times Letters section, which had recently printed a few fountain pen: for or against letters. It had people debating whether writing in this manner was a skill for life, or unnecessary in the computer age. I contacted the Sunday Times and suggesting that they might like to send a reporter to a school where children continued to be taught to write with a fountain pen. When the Education Correspondent arrived, he chatted with a few children and with me, a photograph of a boy practising his hand-writing skills was taken and that was it. I had hoped for a few lines in the Scottish edition of the Sunday Times, which would be good PR for the school. Instead, I was amazed to find the story almost filling a page in the national edition with quotes from all sorts of experts, as well as excellent coverage of the reporter’s visit to the school. I was pleased and again assumed that was that.
Little did I know that within 24 hours I would be interviewed twice on BBC 5 Live, on an early news programme and later by Peter Allan on Drivetime. I was soon being interviewed on various local radio stations and I also spoke with Jeremy Vine at lunchtime on Radio 2. Very quickly the story was syndicated widely in different newspapers and suddenly we went viral, not that I had any idea what that meant at the time!
Social media posts went round the world, bloggers began to write about the story and, believe it or not, within a couple of weeks a Google search of my name and the word ‘fountain-pens’ came up with more than 10 million results. I have just tried the same now 14 years after the event and it still indicates 3,390,300 including links to the New York Herald Tribune, The Denver Post and the Daily Telegraph. I was offered an all-expenses lecture tour in the US (which I did not take up!), interviewed for radio programmes in France, Italy, the US and Russia and was particularly surprised when one of our school families returned from a Christmas holiday in Italy to tell me that the Christmas Day National TV Quiz included a question about our fountain pens! Years later the story was again featured on television, this time on the BBC’s The One Show.
The most amusing incident that came out of the story was a phone call from an executive at the headquarters of Parker Pens. He told me that following the splash in the Sunday Times (and the subsequent international coverage) he’d been contacted by two of their outlets in Edinburgh to say they had run out of fountain pens! As a gesture of their gratitude for the publicity, they said they would like to give every child in Primary 6 and 7 a free fountain pen, before asking me how many we would need. When I said four hundred, they were taken aback, but after discussing the numbers with their bosses, they said they would courier 450 to us.
True to their word, a pallet of pens was delivered. However, on further inspection we found they’d sent us 450 packs of six pens, so 2700 pens each with a retail value of £9.99! I phoned the company and asked if they might have made a mistake! There was a long silence followed by an ‘Oh no!’ before I was put on hold. A senior executive came to the phone and said we should just keep them all as it would be too difficult to have them collected and brought back to their factory in the south of England. We decided to give a pen to every ESMS family and the rest were issued free to children joining Primary 6 for as long as stocks lasted!
The children at ESMS Junior School today use a combination of fountain pens and roller balls, but I am delighted to report that good handwriting continues to be a priority.
ESMS’s sporting success continues for both current and former pupils. Making their mark in the world of cricket are MES pupil Katherine Fraser and FP Hannah Rainey (MES 2015). As part of the Scotland team, they won their matches against France, the Netherlands, Ireland and Germany to take the next step in the women’s T20 World Cup qualification.
Turning to golf, S6 student Archie Finnie was named 2021’s Scottish Boys’ Amateur Champion. Andrew Ni (SMC 2015) flew over from university in Colorado to take part in the R&A Men’s Home Internationals earlier this month. While former pupil Grant Forrest (SMC 2010) won his first European Tour trophy at the Hero Open in St Andrews.
Images Archie Finnie – Scottish Golf Andrew Ni image – Colorado Golf Association Grant Forrest – Andrew Redington/Getty Images