Retiring head will miss life at school

Ronnie Summers
Ronnie Summers
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Ronnie Summers, 58, is stepping down as headteacher of Musselburgh Grammar School.

Ronnie grew up in Airdrie, the son of an engineer who had left school at 14. He went to Airdrie Academy before studying English and history at Glasgow University, then went on to do teacher training at Jordanhill College.

He began his career at Eastbank Academy in Glasgow, where he taught English for seven years. Then he spent three years at the city’s Shawlands Academy and 18 months at Garthamlock in Easterhouse before going on to be principal teacher of English at Lenzie, assistant headteacher at Kilsyth for six years and senior deputy head at Hermitage Academy, Helensburgh.

He moved to Musselburgh Grammar in 2003. It was quite unusual to be given a first headship at such a large school. Musselburgh is East Lothian’s biggest secondary and at that time had around 1300 pupils.

When he arrived the school was in the middle of a major Public Private Partnership-funded building refurbishment.

He recalls: “There were temporary classrooms and work going on, so straight away I had to deal with staff concerns, parental concerns about safety – it was challenging.”

But he says he has enjoyed his 11 years as head. “I’m going to miss the school, the pupils and the staff.

“I’ve always loved the buzz of a school. You never get bored – and at the end of the day you always find the things you haven’t quite had time to do.”

Mr Summers is taking up a two-year secondment at the Scottish Qualifications Authority, where he will be head of qualification development, responsible for the new Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications.

He spent four years on the management board for the new Curriculum for Excellence so was closely involved in the way the programme took shape.

He says one of the most interesting projects he had been involved in during his time at Musselburgh Grammar School had been working with Queen Margaret University and Edinburgh College on a hospitality and tourism programme which saw pupils taking part after school and in the evenings to get an insight into the world of work.

Mr Summers is married with two grown-up sons, both computer software engineers.

Despite the family’s west-coast origins, he recently discovered a previously unknown connection with this area – his father did part of his engineering apprenticeship in East Lothian – he thinks, at the Brunton wireworks at Musselburgh.

Mr Summers says he had expected to stay at Musselburgh Grammar until his retirement and now does not expect to go back into schools when he finishes his secondment. “It will be time to pass the baton,” he said.