THE leader of the Capital’s largest high school has announced she is to retire after more than 35 years in the teaching profession.
Peigi Macarthur has confirmed she will step down from the post of headteacher at Portobello High in August – as staff and pupils prepare to move from the school’s crumbling premises to a £41 million campus being built in Portobello Park.
She revealed the secondary – which has a roll of more than 1300 – had enjoyed a period of rising pupil attainment, adding that she was proud to have been at the helm of one of Edinburgh’s most diverse schools.
But she admitted the struggle to secure a site for the new building had taken its toll after construction was delayed by an upheld legal challenge from Portobello Park Action Group.
The city council was then forced to lodge a private Bill at the Scottish Parliament to allow education-related development on the land.
Work eventually began in October last year – six years after first being approved.
Mrs Macarthur, who grew up in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis and joined Portobello in 2006 after holding the post of senior depute head at Currie Community High, said: “I have really enjoyed the cut and thrust of education, and I love working with young people.
“I think the difficult moment was probably when the Court of Session made the decision not to support the earlier judgement [to build in Portobello Park] – it was not enjoyable when there was contention within the community.
“But first and foremost, what was important to me was to deliver the highest standards of education to the young people.”
Parents and city chiefs today congratulated Mrs Macarthur on her retirement and said she had been a “fantastic asset” to the school.
Emma Wood, member of Portobello High parent council, said: “Peigi commands pupils’ absolute respect, not through shouting or scaring them but in the way she communicates her genuine enthusiasm, humanity and passion which motivates and inspires.”
Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “As headteacher of Portobello, she has steered the whole school community through a challenging period and she leaves the school looking forward to a fantastic new building fit for the 21st century.”