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In Conversation with Mr Boyd and Mr Salmond

Gordon Boyd (Head of Senior School) and George Salmond (Head of Junior School)
  • Junior School
  • Senior School

Following the success of Open Morning, we caught up with our Head of Senior School, Mr Gordon Boyd and Head of Junior School, Mr George Salmond to chat about life at Watson's, why they love being part of the community and how pupils can make the most of their time here...

What is the best part of your roles as Heads of Senior School and Junior School?

Mr Boyd: Being a Headteacher is a huge privilege. With over 1400 pupils and 180 staff in the Senior School, it’s a big responsibility but to be able to bring everyone together is a pleasure. Most days I count myself incredibly lucky to be able to work with Watson’s families and my excellent colleagues. There’s always plenty of fun and laughter as well as a sense of real pride in what we do together and as individuals.

Mr Salmond: When I was a class teacher, I had the opportunity to interact with a small group of children in whichever year I was fortunate enough to teach each academic session. However, as Head of Junior School, it’s great to go around campus and get to know even more pupils. Whether that be going into a PreSchool class, P3 or P6, it's a real privilege to see what's going on and how our pupils are progressing. It’s also great to get to know the parents and build up those relationships which hopefully remain very strong for the duration of their children’s time at the school.

What are your plans for this year?

Mr Boyd: This year is a very important one for us as it’s the first proper start we’ve had for a number of years due to the pandemic. Even a year ago we had to restrict spectators at sports matches. Last session finished brilliantly - we had a terrific Summer term, everything we planned we managed to do in terms of teaching & learning, exams and enrichment activities. I’m very keen that this year we consolidate a lot of the practice we’ve developed over the Covid years which is rooted in excellent teaching & learning, support for wellbeing and offering enrichment opportunities. This is the year for ensuring that our standards across the board are excellent. 

Mr Salmond: The last couple of years have been rather curtailed in terms of the activities, trips and events that we would normally have in the calendar. Occasions which bring together the full school experience. To be able to plan for these now is absolutely great - whether that's a concert, sports day or drama performance - the confidence and enjoyment that pupils get from participating is rewarding to see. The way they interact with each other and members of staff allows them a platform to be themselves and celebrate one another’s contributions and successes. That’s a significant part of any school experience but particularly here at Watson’s.

Tell us about your favourite event in the School calendar?

Mr Boyd: It’s very difficult to decide a favourite. I try to go to as much as I can - I love seeing youngsters doing things I didn’t know they were involved in and then watching them succeed in ways they really want to - that’s a real joy. If I had to be more specific, the March Hare at the beginning of the Summer Term is always a real highlight - huge numbers of pupils and staff take part in a run as part of our House Competition. It’s a great example of fun and togetherness. Some of the best moments throughout the academic year are when the whole community comes together. Another example would be the start of session assembly where we welcome new pupils & staff, office bearers are introduced and the pipe band plays. It's a great way to kick the term off but more so this year because it was the first time we had met altogether for many, many months. 

Mr Salmond: Can I have two?! The first has to be our P1 Nativities because these are our youngsters’ first opportunity to perform in front of an audience, predominantly made up of their very proud family members. There can also be one or two quite memorable, amusing moments which make us all smile. The second is our Sports Days because that's an occasion outdoors where pupils, families and staff are all together - whether competing or just having fun, it’s very special to see the full school community connecting as one.

Who (famous or otherwise) inspires you at school?

Mr Boyd: The people that inspire me here are the youngsters who have not necessarily found things very easy but who have persisted and finally found their own thing. It’s very easy to be put off by the mindset of ‘I can’t do that’ or ‘she/he says I won’t be any good at that’. As a result, those that succeed in spite of that are heroes in my eyes. To be honest, most of our pupils are an example of that resilience and determination. The other great heroes - often unsung - are, of course, the staff as they consistently find ways to help build our pupils’ confidence and can-do attitudes. 

Mr Salmond: Our brilliant pupils are always an inspiration to us, but particularly over the last few years. What they've had to put up with in terms of restrictions, working from home, online learning, a change to the way we do things (events and trips being cancelled) has been admirable - they’ve just got on with it. Any modifications we’ve made, they’ve been so resilient and taken it in their stride. As we’ve begun to open up and get back to normal, it's been a real delight to see how they’ve responded to these events happening again. For the last couple of years, I was so proud of how the vast majority of pupils coped with what was going on. For those children that found it a little bit tougher, I am even more proud. They had to dig deep with some of the difficulties that they had encountered or things that they found tricky but they got through it. Some continue to work hard to overcome challenges and we’re fortunate to have loving parents and amazing members of staff in school to support them.

What is your advice to current and future Watsonians this year?

Mr Boyd: Given the experiences throughout Covid, we’ve become more reflective and aware. This is largely a good thing but it can make for a more anxious life. Often, we don’t get that moment of calmness that each of us needs. It is important to remember that however challenging things are, you don’t need to respond immediately. Don’t be afraid to say ‘I’ll get back to you on that’. Give yourself a moment, take stock, be yourself and respond in a way that's true to your character. Don’t jump into anything in the heat of the moment that you might later regret. 

Mr Salmond: Make the most of all the opportunities that come along. We’re very fortunate at the school to have a great deal of clubs and extracurricular activities that pupils can get involved in. As much as luck plays a big part in anybody’s development, I am a great believer that you can make your own luck by grasping all the opportunities that come along. I would like to think that pupils this year, and future pupils, look at everything that's on offer here, give things a go, either because you think you’re going to be quite good at it but mainly because you think you’re going to enjoy it, expand that friendship group and just have a great time.