ANDY Sinclair likes to climb Munros - but Barrhead High School (BHS) may be the proudest summit he’s bagged.

The school’s head teacher will officially retire just days after his 64th birthday in April with a decade under his belt of working with pupils, staff and parents.

But his last working day is on March 27 having overseen the physical transformation of the school and an “ethos” change with pupils.

“If I was not hitting 64, I could easily stay on,” he admits, sitting in his bright office with the sprawling view up Aurs Road towards the reservoirs and his home on the other side of East Renfrewshire.

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He didn’t know “the Barrhead side” at all prior to interviewing for the head job 10 years ago. Then, he was considered for both BHS and Woodfarm High. He met locals to prepare for the Barrhead interview and was successful.

“I was more than happy that the Barrhead interview happened first and I got it,” he says. “There is something about Barrhead - it has a different nature, a real sense of the community and history behind it.

“There’s something very special about the young people in Barrhead. I have no regrets that this is the school I finished my career in.

“It was a brilliant end to my career.”

When Mr Sinclair first started at the school, about 30 per cent of pupils were getting five or more Level 5 qualifications. In the last couple of years, that has soared past 60 per cent.

Parents, and even Mr Sinclair, credit how well staff and young people work together - but also introducing blazers.

“I still remember a pupil saying to me at the time, ‘Are you saying I will get a better mark in maths if I wear a blazer?’,” he says about reintroducing blazers about three or four years into his tenure.

“I said it was not as simple, but I do believe a commitment to standards makes a difference across the board.

“The evidence is now available that a focus on uniform behaviour and ethos does lead to a change in exam results. 

“I remember the day we brought the blazers in. We didn’t know if it would take off and you just had kids walking down to start in full uniform.

“I remember that being a real buzz because we got the support from the parents and pupils.”

And the real exam success showed in August 2017, just as they moved into the new building, something Mr Sinclair delayed his retirement for.

He was originally supposed to put his feet up at the age of 60 but didn’t want to go before seeing in the state-of-the-art facility.

“I have enjoyed having nearly three years in the building,” he says. “It’s made a big difference on the ethos, their teaching and learning, in a building that’s first rate.

“It’s increased the motivation and enjoyment for staff and pupils.”

There’s more focus on learning, says Mr Sinclair, and his enthusiastic staff, including when they join in Friday Club sports after school.

“Our staff are very supportive staff and very open to looking at how they can best provide or educate for young folk,” he says.

“Staff will come down on Friday and join in with the young people. That gives you a flavour of the community.”

In the past year, the school has won countless awards for sport, dance, digital skills. And occasionally, Mr Sinclair still gets into the classroom and his first love, maths.

“I loved working in the classroom,” he says. “I always had links with young people and I enjoyed working with young people.

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“You can build a good relationship with young folk and benefitting them by passing on knowledge and experience.”

Dad of three and grandfather of three Mr Sinclair has teaching in the family. His wife Kate is depute head at Williamwood, one child is a depute head and another is training to be a PE teacher.

But he is looking forward to the list of chores his wife is preparing and adding to his list of 220 bagged Munros. 

Hillwalking is something a large group at the school regularly does and something Mr Sinclair says is unique in his experience for a secondary school. And it characterises the relationship between staff, pupils and parents at the school.

“It’s lovely to be able to choose this is the right time to leave,” he says. 

“I love coming into my work every day. I’m looking forward to retiring, but it will be very different - you’re on the go all the time.

“I’m leaving on a high for me and the school. It’s nice to finish and look back on where we have got to.”