At the beginning of the period there were within the burgh four state-run junior primary schools: the Burgh (between 1934-64 it was located on its second site, in the old grammar school buildings on Eskside East and Shorthope Street corner); Campie (built 1919) on Stoneyhill Farm Road; Saint Peter’s Episcopal (located in the old St Peter’s Chapel, Millhill to 1956); and Loretto RC (which from 1932-5 was located in what was initially the old grammar school building (built pre-1914) used by the grammar school to 1931). Loretto RC then moved into the Burgh school’s first building at Newbigging (built 1899, used by the Burgh school to 1934), where it remains in 2000.
Until July 1952 Musselburgh Grammar School (built 1931) had a primary division; the primary was downstairs, the secondary upstairs, plus a shared gym and assembly hall.
By 2000 there were five state-run primaries (four with nursery classes), and five nursery schools, all taking both girls and boys.
Burgh (the new building at Kilwinning Place, open from July 1964), ages 3-11, roll 290, including special classes for SEN children. It serves an area from the centre of the burgh to Fisherrow and Goosegreen in the north and Inveresk Village in the south-east. In November 1987, there were 14 classrooms and ten primary teachers, including the headteacher and the assistant headteacher. There was one nursery teacher and two nursery nurses.
Campie, taking ages 3-11, roll 588 including special classes for SEN children.
Campie school has always occupied the same site but has had various additions and alterations over the years from 1945-2000. In 1945 there were shelter sheds for the children on the site of what is now the school car park. A second janitor’s house was on the opposite side of the school gates from the present one and air raid shelters took up a section of the school playground. In addition there was a wooden building known as ‘The Bungalow’, which housed Campie Special School for mentally handicapped children (to c1960). In 1945 the staff were still involved in overnight fire watching duties, which they undertook on a rota basis. The headteacher in 1945 was Mr C. McPhail. In 1950 the roll of the school was 491.
The school had an academic reputation and some of the tests devised by the headteacher were thought by the grammar school to be too difficult. The school log book records quite frequent early closures for bad weather and considerable disruption on race days. Mr McPhail retired in 1957 and was succeeded by Mr Thomas Bird who transferred from Fisherrow Primary School, which was due for closure. Mr Bird was succeeded as headteacher by Mr John Stirling, at which time the roll stood at about 400. At the time ‘The Bungalow’ was no longer occupied by Campie Special School and was used for art and crafts until its demolition to make way for the open-plan infant department in the early 1970s.
In April 1989 there was a serious fire at the school caused by vandalism. One classroom was destroyed and considerable damage was done. A large-scale refurbishment took place thereafter. With much new housing in Musselburgh the roll expanded to almost 700 pupils with several classes being in mobile units.
In 1993 Mr Stirling retired and was succeeded by Miss P. McCall. When Stoneyhill Primary School opened in 1996 the roll subsided to more manageable proportions with 21 classes and the nursery. In 1999 a major building programme commenced to add a library, a computer suite, disabled access and six new classrooms.
Loretto Roman Catholic, Newbigging, takes ages 3-11, roll 250. The school’s catchment area includes the whole of the town plus Wallyford and Whitecraig and not all pupils are Roman Catholic.
Pinkie Saint Peter’s, Pinkie Road (opened August 1956, when it was transferred to Midlothian County Council), was built within the former policies of Pinkie House. In 1989 it served the area to the south of the High Street; there were 16 classrooms and 16 teachers, including the head teacher, the deputy (both non-teaching) and the assistant head teachers.
Children are taken from 5-11 and the school roll in 2000 was 389, including special classes for SEN children. The first admission to the grammar school from Pinkie Saint Peter’s was in August 1960.
The newest school was Stoneyhill, off Clayknowes Way, which was announced in December 1991 and which opened in 1996, catering for ages 3-11, roll 264. Land (more than four acres) was set aside for a new school as early as 1981, when housing expansion seemed imminent. Until Stoneyhill was opened, pressures on school accommodation at Campie were considerable, with 695 pupils on the roll in 1995. The cost of the new school was £1.7million.
In 2000 there were five state nursery schools – all catering for children age 3-5: Bridge Street; Butterflies (Stoneybank); Levenhall (Moir Place); and Pelican (North High Street). The Links nursery, located in the old health club facilities in Balcarres Road, opened in August 1995 at a cost of £80000. It caters for 80+ children.
The Fisherrow Playgroup, again state-run, operated from the Fisherrow Community Centre and catered for the 1-3 age group.
One of the more innovative childcare projects in the burgh is the First Step Community Project – a parent support network; here Eilish Guy summarises what First Step is and why it was set up.
First Step is a community managed project which aims to work together to secure a better future for families.
First Step started in 1987 when a group of enthusiastic local parents recognised a real need in their community for good quality childcare and where parents could have the opportunity to meet and get involved in educational, and vocational training opportunities. After two years of hard work, they finally got funding and premises at 37 Galt Avenue, Musselburgh, a former block of flats renovated by East Lothian Council. On Monday 2 April 1990, the official opening of First Step took place.
Over the years First Step has provided childcare for hundreds of children. We have 35 childcare places for 1-4 year olds in our playrooms. There are two playrooms, and we have six childcare staff working directly with the children. Our team of childcare workers provide a child centred play environment where every child is valued and nurtured.
In addition we provide an adult opportunities programme based at First Step. Classes and groups reflect the interest and needs of the parents. We currently are running the following classes – computing, dance, arts and crafts and parenting classes.
First Step also has a community cafe, which provides healthy snacks and lunches at very reasonable prices. The cafe is the soul of the project where parents, children and staff meet.
Our ethos is to work in partnership with parents and the local community. First Step is managed by a management committee comprising of local parents and workers from health, education, social work, and continuing education. There are also representatives from local community organisations and East Lothian Council. Since opening in 1990, First Step has continued to grow and develop its services in response to local needs. Over the past six years, we have developed a confidential counselling service and an outreach service, which aims to support families under stress in their own homes. We are currently seeking funding to continue these valuable services and hope to be working in the community for many years to come.
Staffing structure is as follows project leader; depute project leader; six childcare workers; counsellor/group worker; outreach worker; cook; finance worker; administrator and caretaker/cleaner.
In 2000 secondary education in the parish was largely provided by Musselburgh Grammar School, Inveresk Road. Some Roman Catholic children went to St David’s, Dalkeith.
Of all the changes in education the raising of the school leaving age twice during the period probably put the most pressure on. In 1947 it went up to 15 and in 1972 to 16; in both instances the consequential increase of unwilling and resentful pupils introduced a whole new raft of problems (see also Education by Annemarie Allan & Jane Bonnar, county volume).
In 1945 Fisherrow in South Street, off North High Street (built 1876, last P1 admission May 1954, closed July 1958), was a junior secondary school (pupils age 12-15); it was amalgamated with Musselburgh Grammar School (which until then was a senior secondary school, pupils age 12-17) on 20 August 1945. It was thereafter known as the Musselburgh Grammar School Annexe and was used to c1972.
From September 1947 Musselburgh Grammar School took all the secondary pupils from the rural parish schools at Crookston and Smeaton, as well as from St Peter’s; this seems to indicate that Fisherrow’s role as a separate junior secondary ended with the amalgamation but it seems likely that children who passed their assessments at age 12 were, during the 1940s and 1950s at least, taught separately from those who did not. Nonetheless, Musselburgh grammar was a ‘multilateral comprehensive school’ from 1945.
From the 1960s who was taught and where was more of a juggling act as staff strove to accommodate all the pupils, who were scattered about the burgh in an ill-assorted muddle of buildings. From 1947 practical rooms in Loretto RC School were utilised and 13 rooms in HORSA huts (supposedly temporary accommodation) were in use from January 1949. From 1958 the children had access to Loretto’s Pinkie playing fields – previously the Shirehaugh was used. The Burgh Annexe was brought into use in June 1967 and this too was used to c1972.
Finally, on 1 September 1972, Musselburgh Grammar School was entirely located on a single site and the annexes closed.
Over the period the school faced a number of problems (common to most secondary schools): in 1955 it was said to have ‘re-established its good name’ but in the 1980s the school roll was falling and concern was expressed in the local paper. There were reports of glue sniffing as a problem (Haddington was similarly affected), there was a shortage of teachers and the buildings and facilities were poorly maintained – there were ‘tattered seats … ancient desks … and book sharing by three classes. Blackboards were so old it was not possible to write on them…’ (East Lothian Courier 1986 February 7).
In 1997 there was increasing concern about the level of both bullying and drug abuse in East Lothian’s schools. In August the grammar school experienced gang warfare on the premises, while standard grade results were better than ever. In 1999 Musselburgh Grammar School was controversially labelled ‘the worst school in Scotland’; by 2000 it was ‘much improved’. Nonetheless, the East Lothian Courier launched a drugs hotline in 2000.
From 1990 the school was able to use the Musselburgh Sports Centre, next to the school. In 2000 it catered for children aged 11-18 and the school roll was 1172, including 14 SEN pupils (with special educational needs).
Loretto School, Scotland’s oldest independent boarding school (founded 1827), maintained its traditional and valued small size, but developed its facilities and outreach.
In 1951 the adjacent Pinkie House and its grounds were bought (though much of the area was subsequently released to the town for a new primary school), providing a new boarding house and playing fields. In the mid-1960s Hope House and Seton House were built in Pinkie’s grounds, to provide greatly improved accommodation and study space for the boys. As pupil numbers rose, the chapel was extensively rebuilt and enlarged in 1965 and new laboratories opened in 1972, followed by the conversion of the old gymnasium to a theatre (1979) and a sports hall. Further classrooms, a music school, and a computer and library building followed in the 1990s. Many of these additional buildings were by architects of note (see Townscapes, Buildings and Landscapes of Distinction).
Some day pupils were admitted from the 1970s and scholarships for pupils from state schools funded. Girls were first admitted in the post O level years in 1981, using the old sanatorium (Trafalgar Lodge) as their boarding house. This was extended and a new girls’ house built to allow co-education throughout the school to be introduced from 1995.
The Junior School (Nippers) at North Esk Lodge (founded 1891) similarly benefited from new buildings and in 1999 opened its early years classes, so allowing co-education at Loretto from ages 5-18.