Q+A: Dollar, UK
Dollar, one of Scotland's largest and best-performing schools, is a day and boarding school for boys and girls aged five to eighteen. Here the school answers our questions and takes us on a guided tour...
What happens when parents visit the school?
Dollar has an annual Open Day in September, but parents are welcome to visit the school at any point in the year and are encouraged, where possible, to visit with their child. The visit is arranged by the Admissions Department and consists of a school tour, led by current pupils, which includes the opportunity to speak with class teachers, sports coaches and music tutors, and to spend time in any area of the school that is of particular interest.
The visiting family is then introduced to Boarding House Parents for a tour of the boarding houses. Overnight taster sessions can be arranged for prospective boarders to allow them to experience school life.
Parents meet with the Rector (Headmaster), and are welcome to discuss any aspect of the school or application process in more detail. There is also a short meeting with the Admissions Officer who provides information on the next step and follow-up to the visit.
How old is the school?
Founded in 1818, Dollar Academy is thought to be the oldest co-educational day and boarding school in the world, and has long been recognised as one of the country’s largest and best-performing schools.
How many students do you have?
Each year we have around 1,200 pupils at Dollar. Approximately ten percent of Senior School pupils board with us, while the rest attend as day pupils.
What assessments are required to enrol?
We are an academically selective school, and entrance is by written test and/or interview. Assessments are used to ascertain whether prospective pupils are sufficiently able to benefit from a Dollar education and, where relevant, are used to inform decisions on appropriate teaching sets. In addition to the Entrance Assessment, we also consider the applicant’s age and any other relevant information available to us. The aim is to conduct admissions on a fair and non‐discriminatory basis.
What curriculum do you follow?
Pupils at Dollar study the Scottish curriculum and work towards Highers and Advanced Highers.
How have your pupils performed in examinations in recent years?
We have an excellent 86% A—B pass rate, and 96% of leavers go on to university, the majority accepted to their first choice. The most popular destinations are Scottish Universities – each year, some 30% of leavers head to the Universities of St Andrews, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
What is your teaching philosophy?
Our focus is very much on encouraging the individual talents, interests and ambitions of all our pupils. There are opportunities for every child at Dollar, and each is provided with a positive and supportive environment in which to shine.
What is the background of your staff?
All teaching staff at Dollar are registered with the GTC (General Teaching Council) for Scotland. The teachers are a mix of old and young, and many have had careers in industry prior to training as teachers.
How do you support pupils who are struggling, and how do you challenge the more able?
When the need arises, our Support for Learning Department provides additional support, which can range from advice to colleagues, in-class support, team teaching, small-group tuition and tailor-made individual programmes. Regular contact is maintained with parents, and special care taken to ensure continuity of support during key transitional phases.
How do you help boarders to settle in?
There is a full programme of social and team-building events, and new pupils are paired with an existing boarder of the same age to help them in the first few weeks.
Who looks after boarders?
Being in a boarding house at Dollar is like being in a large family. Each house has its own live-in Houseparents. They are assisted by House Tutors who are teachers at the school and several Assistant Housestaff. Older pupils support the younger ones, and there are pupil Heads and their Deputies to help run the houses. The Rector (Headmaster) and Deputy Rector are in overall charge, and visit the houses regularly to meet the pupils and staff.
What is the accommodation like?
We have three boarding houses, which are all decorated and equipped to the highest standard, and offer pupils access to outstanding teaching and facilities. Boys and girls live in separate houses, although they mix freely at school, and are allowed to visit each other's houses. Seniors usually have their own room, while younger pupils share with one or two others.
Each boarder has their own bed, desk, wardrobe and drawers. There is lots of storage and rooms are all spacious and bright. There are plenty of shower rooms and bathrooms, and each boarding house has its own computer suite, living rooms, dining kitchen and its own large, private garden, with barbecue and patio areas.
What do boarders do in their free time?
Our boarding pupils have plenty to keep them busy with the wide range of after-school activities on offer, but they do also have allocated time for homework and revision.
During their free time, there is a full programme of trips to interesting places and fun events, including dances, parties, theme parks, outdoor activities, laser quest, treasure hunts, shopping trips, the cinema, shows and concerts. Boarders can make use of the excellent sports and recreational facilities on site. There are sports fixtures every Saturday.
They can also visit day-pupil friends, or go into town, within reasonable limits. All organised excursions are accompanied, and pupils are given strict curfews for their own activities.
How do most children travel to and from school?
Pupils who live outside Dollar travel to school by public or private transport. The school has visitor parking for drop-off and pick-up times, and there is an extensive network of school buses taking pupils into school along routes from Dunfermline, Aberdour, Limekilns, Glenrothes, Cowdenbeath, Falkirk, Dunblane, Bridge of Allan, Stirling, Hillfoots, Alloa, Bannockburn and St Andrews. Our school buses are independently operated, and are a mixture of public routes and privately hired.
Do you have a cafeteria?
We have a spacious Dining Hall where pupils can enjoy a wide selection of hot or cold food at mealtimes. All our food is cooked and prepared in our own kitchens from fresh ingredients each day, and our award-winning catering team actively engage with our pupils to promote healthy choices, and encourage ideas and suggestions for new dishes.
How do parents pay if they want children to take school meals?
All meals are included within the fees for boarding pupils. Our day pupils use a cashless biometric system, which enables parents to pay in advance for the school meal, and to receive details of the food choices that their child is making.
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