Paisley Grammar School

Paisley Grammar School, known for a period following 1896 as the Paisley Grammar School and William B. Barbour Academy, is a non-denominational state comprehensive secondary school in Paisley, the largest town in Renfrewshire, Scotland. The school was founded in 1576 and was formerly a selective grammar school.

The school gained the addition of the ‘William B. Barbour Academy’ due to a bequest by the former Member of Parliament for the town (1885–1891). The foundation stone of the current building in the town’s Glasgow Road was laid in 1896. This new school building was opened in 1898 by Balfour of Burleigh, then Secretary of State for Scotland. The school’s Latin motto was “Disce Puer Aut Abi” (“Work, boy, or get out”) and was known for a number of its long-standing traditional practices.

The school was fee paying until the mid 1960′s and in 1988 when threatened with imminent closure by Strathclyde Regional Council, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher intervened personally to ensure the survival of the school. The law was changed so that local councils could no longer close schools which were more than 80% full without approval by the Secretary of State for Scotland. Soon after, the council was forced to drop its plans.

The current Head Teacher is Ms Caroline Amos who joined the school in January 2006. (text above partially taken from WikiPedia)

Notable former pupils

Notable former pupils include:

  • Douglas Alexander – Football Journalist The Sunday Times Scotland
  • Michael Barratt – broadcaster
  • Colin Campbell – former Scottish National Party Member of the Scottish Parliament
  • Rev. James Carlile (1795–1841) – Irish Commissioner of National Education
  • Alasdair Fraser — Aquaculture Pioneer and businessman
  • Sir Fred Goodwin – formerly CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Peter Howitt (1970) actor and film writer/director
  • Omer Hussain – Scottish cricket internationalist
  • John Jackson (1887–1958) – astronomer
  • Jacqui Lait (formerly Jacqueline Harkness) – politician and first Conservative female Whip
  • Robin McEwan, Lord McEwan, Scottish judge
  • Ann McKechin – Labour Member of Parliament for Glasgow North
  • John Macquarrie (1919–2007) – sometime Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, University of Oxford, and Canon Residentiary, Christ Church, Oxford
  • Alexander Munro MacRobert KC (1873–1930) – lawyer and politician
  • Jim Mather – Scottish National Party politician
  • Andrew Neil – journalist and broadcaster
  • Brian Reid – former professional footballer and present manager of Ayr United.
  • Suhayl Saadi – author and dramatist
  • David Stow (1793–1864) – educationalist
  • David Tennant, stage name of David McDonald – actor (the tenth Doctor in Doctor Who)
  • Kenyon Wright – former Chairman of the Scottish Constitutional Convention
  • Norman Wylie (Lord Wylie) (1923–2005) – lawyer and politician


There have been many Rectors of this prestigious school over its history including George Aimer Russell at the turn of the 20th century, and, more recently, John Clarke OBE (1937–1956), Ninian A. Jamieson (1956–1966), Robert Y. Corbett (1966–1988), Hugh H Nisbet (1988–1995) and John C Pears (1995–2006). Hugh Nisbet is also a former pupil of the school. John Pears and Hugh Nisbet are the only two current living former Rectors of the school.

Caroline Amos is the current Head Teacher.

Old Grammarians

The Old Grammarians Club is the society formed for former pupils and staff of Paisley Grammar School. J Melvyn Haggarty is the current president. Mr Haggarty served as Principal Teacher of History in Paisley Grammar between 1975 and 2006, and is an honorary member.

John Pears, Rector from 1995 – 2006, is also an honorary member and is the current Rector Emeritus. He also is the current past President of Paisley Rotary Club.

March 2010 saw the Club give a generous donation to the then sixth years charity drive, which was handed over to the pupils at the club’s annual Ball.

The Old Grammarians Club also contributes to the school’s annual prize, giving the Old Grammarians Prize to one lucky pupil in the sixth year. Furthermore, it puts on a number of events for its members – including luncheons and the aforementioned annual Gala Ball.

More information about the club can be found at

Clubs and societies

The school offers a wide variety of clubs and activities for the pupils, including:

  • Rugby S3 – S6
  • Theatregoers S6
  • Hockey S4 – S6
  • Quiz Club S1 – S6
  • Heartstart S1 – S3
  • Science Club S1&2
  • Basketball S1 – S6
  • Skiing S1 – S6
  • Netball S1&2 S3-S6
  • Football (girls) S1 – S6
  • Debating Club S3 – S6
  • Woodwork Specialist S1 – S4
  • Football (boys) S1 – S6
  • Badminton S1&2
  • Junior choir
  • Senior Choir
  • Teachers Choir
  • Games club S1-S6
  • String Group
  • Orchestra
  • Guitar Club
  • Brass Group

Through the extended music department Paisley Grammar has showcased its talent through school drama and music productions. The main show is presented at the end of the school year.

Paisley Grammar also has strong links with the the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Programme, and with the Mark Scott foundation.

Choral Sensation

In late 2010 music teacher and choir leader Mr Dunlop received a phone call from BBC. They were saying that if he would find 15 responsible pupils to send in a video of them performing a song of their choice, and if they were accepted, they would get an all expenses paid trip to London for a live audition in January for the show CBBC does Glee Club, although it was later decided it would be aired on BBC 1. The song they chose was ‘I love you, you’re perfect, now change’ and their video was accepted, so they performed in London and they got through to the finals in March, however, they were eliminated by eventual winners Soulmates.


The School’s uniform is as follows:

  • White or light blue blouse or shirt
  • School tie
  • Navy blue or black skirt
  • Black tailored trousers or seamed shorts
  • Navy blue pullover or v-necked sweatshirt
  • Black shoes
  • Navy blue blazer with school badge


The School’s song is Oriflamme and its words are by Alexander Campbell and the music is by Robert Provan. The words are as follows:

The torch of our yesterdays
Was kindled by a royal hand.
To bear the Oriflamme always,
And keep it splendid and ablaze,
Was his command.

The torch has ever burned with light
Inspiring, down the days of dust.
They held it sacred in his sight.
To pass it on, a beacon bright:

It was their trust.

The torch, long borne of storied fame
Our eager hands are grasping now.
That we shall tend its vital flame
In loyal service to his name
This be our vow.


 School website