Gavin Clark, Headteacher, 2014

It is impossible to overestimate the impact that piping and drumming has had in Preston Lodge High School in recent years. The Preston Lodge Pipe Band has grown quickly from a tentative group of new players into the flourishing figurehead of our school and its community. Young people of all ages and abilities, across the primary and secondary sector, have benefited immeasurably from the skill development and self-esteem building that piping and drumming can provide.

Our school aims to develop learning, achievement, respect, community and happiness. It is very obvious that student learning is well supported by a pipe band. Not only do students learn the skills of piping and/or drumming, but they also learn many complex skills, such as teamwork, resilience, flexibility and self-discipline. Scottish education is currently struggling to improve the way in which we develop young people’s skills for learning, life and work. It is immediately obvious when discussing piping and drumming with any of our students that they are developing those skills in an impressive way.

The self-discipline that members of our pipe band display when practising and performing is also reflected in improved attitudes towards learning in the classroom. The application of our students is improved, because the focus that is required in piping and drumming is transferrable to many other situations.

Pipe bands offer direct opportunities for achievement, and our pipe band has achieved great things in recent years, raising awareness of the very best aspects of our community both in local, national and international events. The collective behaviours required for a pipe band to operate effectively within and outwith the performance arena when on the road makes them superb ambassadors for their community, and I often receive complimentary e-mails and phone calls about the impact they have had.

The personal achievements that our pipers and drummers experience in mastering their instrument and participating in competition is matched by the broader sense of achievement that the whole band feels in operating collectively as part of something bigger than any one individual. This team dynamic is particularly strong in piping and drumming, where intelligently arranged competitions encourage students to be the very best that they can be.

Respect is at the core of our pipe band and students develop a great deal of self-respect, which helps them overcome the challenges that face all young people. Furthermore, students develop great respect for others. This ranges from appreciation of the talents of other players, to admiration for the determination to succeed that young people in other areas exhibit. There is a momentum in a pipe band which compels students to face up to who they are and how they interact with others. This is not always easily achievable in a school setting.

Our pipe band has brought the Preston Lodge School community together. The school and the community is enormously proud of their achievements. Communities like ours are often disrespected by other communities, perhaps so those other communities may feel a little better about themselves, and the success of our pipe band has really challenged preconceptions of this community. Preston Lodge and its community is becoming well-known beyond East Lothian as a centre of piping and drumming excellence and that, in turn, feeds a real sense of self-esteem within the community itself.

Finally, our community has been made happier by the existence of our school’s pipe band. A bold statement, but also a statement of the obvious. Whether it be the intrinsic happiness that participants and their families experience or the relational happiness of those who benefit from the bands playing, it is possible to say that pipe band activities actually increase happiness within our wider community. The learning that takes place, the achievement that so many feel, the increased sense of respect and the building of a stronger community contribute to a much stronger sense of well-being for our people which is, after all, what we all want from education.

Every school and its community should have a pipe band so that every young person can experience the direct and lasting benefits that we have experienced at Preston Lodge High School.


Gavin Clark

November 2014