The History of Kelso High School

There is a long tradition of education in the Kelso area dating back to the Twelfth Century. Records show that there was a Grammar School in the old burgh of Roxburgh in 1152 run by the monks of Kelso Abbey. This became Kelso Grammar School after the reformation. In 1156, the Grammar School is mentioned as one of the four principal schools in Scotland. The first official mention of Kelso Grammar School was in 1560 when it was recorded that “pupils lay prone on earthen floors covered by straw or rushes, using a slate for drawing or writing”. The school was run under the auspices of the Kirk Session and the minutes of the Kirk Session record some fascinating details about the school until the late 19th Century.

The school taught boys only from the age of 7 years of age and charged fees. The children were taught in a loft above the Parish Church which had been established in the ruins of Kelso Abbey. In 1670, a new school building was opened and this was further extended in 1780. However, by 1870, the school was described as “dilapidated, dingy and dirty”. It closed in 1873. These buildings were all located close to the site of the Abbey.

Kelso High School was established in 1878 in “a handsome red sandstone edifice”. In 1908 playing fields were required for the school at Orchard Park running to the extent of 9 acres, the field was mainly used for cricket but included rugby and hockey pitches and a tennis court. A changing pavilion was erected on the site. The school charged fees and the numbers attending were not large.

In 1919, following the First World War the school came under the control of the Education Authorities and the numbers attending the school exceeded 200. The school moved to its present site in 1939. The present building was specially designed by Edinburgh Architects Reid and Forbes and is now listed by Historic Scotland as a building of outstanding architectural interest. The numbers attending Kelso High School reached a peak of 888 in 1981. Since then changes to the school’s catchment area has meant that the roll has settled at around 600.

On the 15th of November, 2017 Kelso High School moved into its brand new building on Angraflats Road which boasts outstanding facilities that are used by the whole Kelso community.

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