Right from the moment that you pass under the rather grand stone archway that marks the entrance to Kilgraston, it’s clear you’ve arrived at a rather special place. Travel down the driveway, over the stream and past fields of horses until you reach our Georgian red sandstone mansion. Inside, our girls’ artwork adorns every wall, and the sounds of music rehearsals echo down each corridor. Across the front lawn – to what was once the stable building but is now our bright and cheery prep school – girls laugh, play and learn together. Only 45 minutes from Edinburgh airport yet Kilgraston is secluded and girls are free to roam around the 54 acres of pristine Scottish parkland.
About the school
We are a school with traditional values but a modern and forward looking perspective on education. Education is not just about exam success; developing interest and talents, nurturing an understanding of divergent cultures, and emphasising our personal responsibility as global citizens are vital. As such, a Kilgraston girl benefits from a wealth of opportunities to extend and enrich her educational experience. We offer an enormous breadth of extra-curricular activities, and enjoy modern, state of the art facilities in sports, art, music and science. With the Equestrian centre, a new International sized all-weather hockey pitch, 8 all-weather tennis courts, sports hall with climbing wall and fitness suite and a new 25m indoor swimming pool there is more than enough to keep the girls occupied! The school is a member of the international network of Sacred Heart Schools which opens Kilgraston to a wide range of personal contacts and potential for lifelong friendships with a number of pupils who attend from Mexico, Spain, Germany and other countries world-wide.
Kilgraston’s Women and Business lecture series welcomes the British Transport Police
7th October 2021 — Kilgraston’s senior pupils were lucky this week to benefit from a visit by British Transport Police officers.
As part of the School’s commitment to industry insight, BTP members were taking part in the on-going Women & Business series, where girls are given first-hand experience of a highlighted career.
Appearing in full uniform (including reflective ‘stab vest’ weighing a hefty 6.5kg) all four officers described life within the most specialised and oldest Force in Great Britain, the broad range of skills needed and huge rewards gained: “We are very much part of life on the rail networks,” explained one officer from Central Glasgow, “so much of what we do is about prevention and anticipation, knowing how and when to make a difference.”
Girls learnt about the different aspects of the job, including the handling of explosive-expert dogs and firearms: “Women can be particularly good at conflict resolution,” explained one officer, “frequently they have the best gut-feeling for a situation.”
After the formal lecture – interspersed by several questions from the audience – officers spoke with members of the team on a one-to-one basis, finding out more about the career: “It was really fascinating,” said one Fifth Former, “I had no idea that there was a separate police force for the railways. It was the first time I’ve actually spoken face-to-face with a policeman!”
Two Silvers for Kilgraston Para-athlete at national championships
Kilgraston School’s para-athlete, Freya Howgate, has made a triumphant appearance at the recent School Games National Finals at Loughborough University.
16th September 2021 — Representing Team Scotland,Kilgraston's Upper Sixth pupil won silver medals in both her mixed para shot-put category and 4x100m mixed universal relay, where she joined three other athletes from England, Northern Ireland and Wales, with whom she had never previously raced: “It was so exciting to be part of that group and Team Scotland,” said Freya, “especially as the competition was cancelled last year.”
Running over three days during early September, over 1,000 young athletes competed across ten sports, including disability disciplines, at venues throughout the university’s campus.
Freya, on a Disability Scholarship at Kilgraston, is the first pupil to do so and was competing as a T37/F37 athlete at Loughborough. “The School has been behind me all the way,” she said, “they are always so supportive and encouraging.” 2021 has had its challenges for the young athlete, with both herself and several close family members suffering from Covid: “The season has been a bit up-and-down regarding performances,” she said, “having to miss a big chunk of training during the end of June and start of July.”
As well as illness, exams have always been on the horizon: “I’ve had a lot of schoolwork to prioritise as it was my Highers this year. But all-in-all, I’m happy to be out training and I know the performances will come and keep improving if I work hard.”
Earlier this year, Freya was invited to compete in the British Athletics, Coventry Spring Meet. Speaking to her local paper, the Perthshire Advertiser, after that event, the youngster said: “Coventry was excellent. Some of the athletes there were preparing for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics so, just to be thought of (in that category) made me feel really good,” she continued, “I did feel a bit of pressure to perform, but I managed a new personal best, so that was thrilling.”
Training with local club, Perth’s Strathtay Harriers, Freya has even bigger competitions in her sight, previously speaking about her desire to compete at the Paralympics, Commonwealth Games and European Championships: “It would be great,” she said, “I know that I will really need to work hard for that to happen. But I think that, with the Harriers, I am in the right place and on the right track, so we will see how it goes.”
Dorothy MacGinty, Kilgraston’s Head teacher, commented: “We have been charting Freya’s incredible success for many years now. She is a delight to have at the school. We are so pleased to be able to play a small part in her journey.”
The inspirational owner of Clootie McToot was describing the history of Clootie Dumplings (rich, traditional Scottish fruit puddings) and her own entrepreneurial journey, as part of the School’s Women and Business lecture series: “It’s been a rollercoaster,” said the busy mum and businesswoman, “from making everything in the family’s utility room, we now employ fourteen staff in a professional kitchen.”
Starting just five years’ ago – inspiration came after her son’s appeal for edible donations for a Christmas school fete - Michelle’s traditional Clootie Dumplings sell like hot-cakes, exports reaching North America and Germany: “I was brought-up making them,” explained Michelle, “it was a family tradition and now we use my granny’s very own recipe, it’s the company’s unique selling point.”
Thankfully, these days, the ‘cloot’ (Scottish for cloth) is tailor-made for the job in borders town, Kelso, with no-one, Michelle assured, losing their underwear in the process.
Initially involved with the London food industry, immediately before starting Clootie McToot, Michelle was employed in the community grant application field, however, sales success at her son’s stall soon had her thinking: “I handed in my notice the next day!”
Based in Perthshire village, Abernethy, the business consists of a busy café, training kitchen, subscriber demonstrations and tasting sessions, together with a thriving shop and online retailer. Expansion plans are in the pipeline: “Spring 2022 will see a much bigger café and kitchen, allowing 24/7 production,” Michelle explained.
The need to be flexible and nimble in business, coping with unexpected obstacles and continually looking to diversify, was a recurring theme: “You’re always learning,” she explained, “For instance, fresh dumplings have a shelf-life of 21 days, which can be difficult for stockists, so we came up with the idea of a clootie kit, where you get all the dry ingredients, muslin cloth and string, just adding butter, milk, egg and an apple at home.”
This new product increased lifespan to a year, making stocking far more attractive to retailers: high-street giants John Lewis soon adopting the dumplings. Additionally, lockdown saw a huge spike in home-cooking interest, offering clootie kits the perfect chance to shine: “We went from making 200 to 1,500 a week.”
Michelle described how she’d learnt the importance and power of great social media, constantly adding to the brand’s story, discussing new ingredients and developments and always responding to comments: “We’d established a very active digital shop and loyal customer base, proving an absolute lifeline when Covid arrived.”
Highs and lows
Pupils were fascinated to learn about Clootie’s branding, the whole family initially having had input. But the need to redesign became obvious when one outlet stated that they loved the product, but not the logo: “I was a bit hurt by that one,” said Michelle. However, taking it on the chin, a branding expert was enlisted - a new subtle colour palette decided – with the family’s original design always making a small guest appearance “to remind us what we’re about.”
Concluding her talk, the entrepreneur reiterated how much of a juggling act running your own business is: “Every day is about balancing responsibilities,” she told girls, “it is immensely rewarding, but you do have to be prepared to accept risk, the fear of failure is always there.”
Concentrating young Kilgraston minds on the plight of the planet
Every pupil at Kilgraston School picked-up their paint brush to help highlight environmental concerns.
15th June 2021 — Understanding the plight of the planet can, at times, seem overwhelming. Therefore, to help take one step at a time, a fun, creative and informative lesson was learnt by everyone at Kilgraston as they helped create an all-school mural at the heart of the building.
Kilgraston’s Glass Square is right at the centre of the School, a corridor ’roundabout’ directing pupils and staff in several directions. What better place then to host a vast mural, depicting personal interpretations of images from nature, designed to highlight the inter-dependency of the planet’s lifeforms?
English teacher, Mrs Saunders, had the idea, asking every pupil and staff member to add their bit for the impressive installation, hoping to create something that would make David Attenborough proud, urging: “Let us fill the space by painting paradise with a biodiversity bonanza.”.
Covid restrictions limited numbers which could congregate at one time, however, a strict booking scheme ensured Junior, Senior, Sixth Form and all boarders had their chance with a brush: “It’s very therapeutic,” commented U6s Anna, “it makes you stop and think and really visualise how everything in the natural world is connected.”
The mural will be continually updated and, hopefully, available for visitors to see and enjoy in the not-too-distant future
Shakespearean innovation - Covid definitely didn't stop play
Daytime woodland becomes A Midsummer Night's Dream at Kilgraston School
15th June 2021 — Fairies crunching through the undergrowth; crows squawking high above heads; a gentle June breeze darting around cloaks and crowns (this is a Scottish midsummer after all, there had to be a breeze!).
What better location to perform Shakespeare's classic tale A Midsummer Night's Dream than in Kilgraston's natural amphitheatre? Family harmony and internecine attitudes were deftly portrayed by L&U4 and L5 years, fully facilitating tree-stumps and natural foliage, aptly-placed bunting adding a splash of colour.
Tie a yellow, red, blue and pink ribbon round the old oak tree...
There's nothing more dramatic than a spot of wedded, woodland woe as Queen and King of the Fairies, Titania and Oberon, demonstrated, arguing it out in the undergrowth, with a healthy peppering of humour and exacerbated expressions.
A joy to behold, pupils brought this time-honoured favourite to life, confidently projecting voices; the natural landscape fully utilised.
Thank you to Drama teacher Miss Smith for giving performers memories that will transcend the season.
The show must go on as Perth's young musicians keep arts festival focused
Perhaps you weren't in a city centre venue, however the acoustics were equally impressive, with young musicians filling the air with their online performance during Perth's Festival of the Arts
25th May 2021 — One of the highlights of Perth's annual Festival of the Arts is the county's schools' series of lunchtime concerts, normally performed throughout the week within the city's historic St John's Kirk.
Sadly, because of Covid restrictions, the festival looked to be in jeopardy, however, schools, including Kilgraston, rallied, recording their performance - with appropriate socially-distancing - within their own school, before releasing the videos on YouTube at lunchtime each day.
"So much has already been cancelled," commented Kilgraston's Director of Music Jason McAuley, "so, as with our Covid Christmas Show, I felt it was so important for the girls to keep going and have something to aim for. I couldn't be more proud of their continued application towards practice and performance."
Not compromising on time, (shows lasted the full 45 minutes of a live performance ) Kilgraston's concert featured pupils from both the Junior and Senior School, including Amy B - the School's Young Musician of the Year 2021 - performing Frank Wildhorn's 'Once Upon a Dream' from Jekyll and Hyde. Lucy M - Kilgraston's Junior Young Musician of the Year 2021 - performed a jaunty rendition of Gershwin's 'I've got Rhythm' on flute.
"Being part of the festival, performing with several other Perth schools, has been a such a valuable experience for everyone," continued McAuley, "we can call share musical ideas and inspiration away from a competitive atmosphere. Fingers crossed we will be back together next year but, if not, the show will always go on!"
Kilgraston's Perth Festival of Arts performance - https://www.kilgraston.com/latest-news/kilgrastons-musical-talents-perth-festival-arts/
Concerts from all PKC entrants - https://www.perthfestival.co.uk/event-Schools-Lunchtime-Concert-Series-id1526