Open main menu

Dollar Academy, founded in 1818 by benefaction of trader John McNabb, is an independent co-educational day and boarding school in Scotland. The open campus occupies a 70-acre (280,000 m2) site in the centre of the town of Dollar in Central Scotland. The school is at the foot of the Ochil Hills and is surrounded by Clackmannanshire countryside.

Dollar Academy
Dollar Academy Crest.svg
Academy Place

, ,
FK14 7DU

TypeIndependent day and boarding school
MottoJuventutis Veho Fortunas
(Latin: "I carry the fortunes of youth")
FounderCaptain John McNabb
Chairman of GovernorsProfessor James McEwen
RectorIan Munro
Age5 to 18
Enrolmentc. 1250
Colour(s)          Navy Blue & White
PublicationFortunas (biannual publication)
School newspaperThe Galley Student Newspaper
Former pupilsOld Academicals


There are over 1250 pupils at Dollar Academy, making it the sixth largest independent school in Scotland. On a single campus, it is divided into three separate schools: the Prep School (Preps I to V for ages 5–10), the Junior School (Juniors I and II for ages 10–12) and the Senior School (Forms I to VI for ages 12 going on 18).

Around 80 of the pupils are boarders; the rest are day pupils, either from the village of Dollar itself or from the surrounding counties of Clackmannanshire, Stirlingshire, Perth and Kinross and Fife. Just 20% of the boarding pupils are from overseas, representing less than 4% of the total school roll. Foreign pupils come from a range of countries, including France, Spain, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Czech Republic, Slovakia as well as the United States and China. The remaining 80% of boarding students are British nationals.

Dollar Academy has over 70 sports and recreational activities on offer to pupils after the school day and over the weekend. Dollar Academy has produced international competitors across many disciplines, most notably in rugby and shooting.


Dollar Academy follows the Scottish education system, with pupils sitting a mixture of Intermediate 2 and National 5 examinations at the end of Form IV and Highers at the end of Form V/VI. Most courses in Form VI are at Advanced Higher level and a number of pupils study the Scottish Baccalaureate. All standard subjects are on offer at Dollar Academy. The school also teaches Classical Studies, Latin, Greek, and Mandarin. IT training is provided to all, and music, art, and drama are compulsory for Forms 1 and 2.

Combined Cadet ForceEdit

Dollar Academy's CCF (Combined Cadet Force) have won the Scottish Schools' CCF skills competition (formerly the Highland CCF Tactical Competition) several times and most recently in 2014, 2016 and 2017. Dollar Academy's CCF was also the first Scottish CCF to win the Welbeck DSFC Cadet Leadership Challenge in 2013 and repeated this in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2019. The CCF First Aid team is also extremely successful winning the Scottish National every year since 2003 and winning the CCF UK Nationals seven times in nine times in the last eleven years. The school is also the only Scottish school in the last fifty years to win the Ashburton Shield at Bisley, winning in 2005 and 2013.

The school has two main pipe bands, both of which have been very successful in competition. The "A" band won the Scottish Schools CCF Pipes and Drums competition every year from 2000 to 2012 and 2014 and 2015,[1][2] as well as winning the RSPBA World Pipe Band Championships in 2010, 2014 and 2015. In 2013, the band was placed first at the last "Major of the season, the prestigious Cowal Gathering. The band continues to achieve an extraordinary catalogue of successes and had a particularly successful year in 2015, winning the Scottish, British, United Kingdom, European and World Championships,[3] leading to them being awarded the title "Champion of Champions". Additionally, the Novice, or "B" band continues to achieve success, winning the British, Scottish and European Championships in 2015,[4] and being crowned "Champion of "Champions"[5] as a result of their success throughout the season.


The ashes of John McNabb, Dollar Academy
The Revd Dr Andrew Mylne, First Rector of the Academy

Dollar was founded in 1818 after Captain John McNab or McNabb. He captained, owned and leased out many ships over the decades and it is known that at least four voyages transported slaves to the West Indies in 1789-91[6], forty years before the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. McNabb bequeathed part of his fortune – £65,000 – to provide "a charity or school for the poor of the parish of Dollar where I was born".[7]

McNabb died in 1802 but it took another sixteen years before the school opened it doors after much debate about how to use the bequest. The lands were granted by the local laird, Craufurd Tait of Harviestoun (d.1832).

It was in 1815 that the Rev. Andrew Mylne, Minister of Dollar, along with fellow Trustees conceived of a great academy to educate the boys and girls of the parish, and also pupils from outside Dollar, who would board with teachers. Full fees would be charged to ‘non-residenters’, while parish pupils would pay fees on a sliding scale, with some receiving free education. To attract pupils from outside the parish, excellent teachers would be appointed.

Mylne engaged the eminent architect, William Henry Playfair, who designed a fitting structure with a splendid Doric façade. John McNabb’s School or Dollar Institution (later Dollar Academy) was finally completed in 1821. In 1818, teaching started, with Rev Andrew Mylne as the first school Rector.

The original campus was landscaped into several gardens including two ponds. In the 19th century the school had a strong emphasis on horticulture, and all pupils were allocated plots in the extensive school grounds. Several curious rarities exist in the school grounds in arboricultural terms, including several sequoias. In the 19th century, Dollar pupils sat the Cambridge Examinations or the Indian Civil Service Examinations. It was pioneering in its teaching of science at a time when most private schools followed an exclusively classical education.

John McNabb’s coffin was discovered in the early 1930s in the crypt under Old Gravel Lane Meeting House in London. Former pupils had his remains cremated, and the ashes of Captain John McNabb now rest above the Bronze Doors of the school founded in his name.


Main (west) facade of Dollar Academy
The library before the fire of 1961

The principal school building was designed by Edinburgh architect William Henry Playfair. The interior originally included stepped seating as might be found in university lecture theatres of the day.[8]

The interior of the Playfair building was gutted by a fire in 1961, but Playfair's Greek-style outer facades remained intact. The interior was rebuilt on a plan based on central corridors with equal sized classrooms on both sides. An extra (second) floor was cleverly concealed, greatly increasing the total available space. The school was re-opened in 1966 by former pupil Lord Heyworth, having been visited by The Queen and Prince Philip in 1963. The assembly hall was rebuilt after the fire. The school library is a "whispering gallery" because of its domed ceiling.

There are numerous other buildings on the campus, including the Dewar Building for science, the Younger Building for mathematics and business studies, the Gibson Building for music, the Iona Building for home economics, the Maguire Building for sport, art and drama and the most recent building the Westwater building . There are also several rugby, cricket and football pitches, and new all-weather surface for hockey and tennis. Sport is supported by the Boys' and Girls' pavilions, the Games Hall and the swimming pool. In 2005, the new Maguire Building was opened with facilities for Art, PE and Drama and with the circular Captain’s Room for conferences and meetings.

In 2016 the Westwater Building was added, named after Pte George Philip Westwater, an FP killed in the First World War at Gallipoli. This building contains the Modern Languages department and two Economics classrooms.[9]

Boarding housesEdit

The library dome, Dollar Academy
Morning Assembly

The original boarding accommodation was built at the same time as the original Playfair Building. These houses were situated in Academy Place to accommodate teachers and boarders. Over the years these buildings have been modernised and study bedrooms introduced. The existing boarding houses are all refurbished period buildings.

There are spaces for 99 boarders in the Academy's three boarding houses. Both weekly boarders (Monday – Friday) and full boarders are accepted.

  • Argyll House – girls aged 10–18
  • Heyworth House – girls aged 10–18
  • McNabb–Tait House – boys aged 10–18

Though the majority of pupils do not board, every pupil belongs to a House. Originally there were five boys' houses, instituted in 1911, hence the term quint. The Quint Cup and House Cup are awarded annually at Prize-Giving. Today there are four quints:


Former pupils' children are traditionally put into the same house as their father, mother, brother, or sister. The names of quints and houses were merged in 2009; previously, male quints followed the names: Castle (Atholl), Devon (Mar), Glen (Stewart), and Hill (Argyll). The fifth male quint was McNabb (purple) but this was dropped in 1937.


The Maguire Building

Each year full colours and half colours are awarded to senior pupils for achievement in sporting or cultural pursuits. These awards merit piping on the school blazer (blue for cultural, white for sporting) and/or a distinctive blazer badge. Internationalists' Award ties are presented to pupils, prep, junior and senior, who has represented their country in sporting or cultural activities.[10] Sixth Form pupils are also given a distinctive silver tie, and prefects wear white and blue bands round the blazer sleeves.

The senior six (or top six) are the most senior prefects in the school, elected by a ballot of Forms IV, V and VI. Those with the highest numbers of votes are selected for the "College of Cardinals", who vote among themselves to elect a Head Boy, Head Girl and two deputies for each.

Two school songs were composed in 1912, but neither was officially adopted. "Here in a Fair Green Valley…" by the poet W. K. Holmes and music by Marc Anthony became the official school song sung at prize-giving each year between 1929–1993. This was then replaced by the Academy Hymn, "O God of Bethel!" until 2007, when the popularity and metaphorical significance of "Will Your Anchor Hold?" (Hymn 412) caused it to be adopted for this purpose.


  • The Rev. Dr Andrew Mylne DD (1818–1850)
  • The Rev. Dr Thomas Burbidge (1850–1851)
  • The Rev. John Milne (1851–1868)
  • The Rev. Dr William Barrack (1868–1878)
  • George Thom (1878–1902)
  • Charles Dougall (1902–1923)
  • Hugh Martin (1923–1936)
  • Harry Bell (1936–1960)
  • James Millar (1960–1962) – Acting Rector
  • Graham Richardson (1962–1975)
  • Ian Hendry (1975–1984)
  • Lloyd Harrison (1984–1994)
  • John Robertson (1994–2010)
  • David Knapman (2010–2019)
  • Ian Munro (current Rector)[11]

Prize day speakersEdit

This list is incomplete, and lists speakers from 1937 to the present. The suffix FP denotes a former pupil of the Academy.

Former pupilsEdit

Academia and scienceEdit


Media and artsEdit



Royal or nobleEdit


  • David Greig, landowner
  • Charles William Maxwell Heddle, businessman
  • Lord Heyworth of Oxton, Chairman of Unilever and ICI
  • Sir Ian Morrow, businessman
  • Gregor Lawson, co-founder of morphsuits
  • Sir Wei Yuk – nineteenth-century Hong Kong businessman and legislator
  • Sir William Reid - mining engineer and joint author of the "Reid Report" on the state of British mining
  • Skye Scott – Director SLSV Limited



Notable teachersEdit

  • Andrew Bell (1753–1832), educationalist and divine (Mathematics Master)
  • Patrick Gibson (1782–1829), landscape painter (Professor of Painting)
  • William Tennant (1784–1848), linguist and poet (Master of Classical and Oriental Languages)
  • Prof David Laird Adams (1837–1892) (Classical and Oriental languages)[13]
  • Jilly McCord (History and Modern Studies Teacher)


  1. ^ Marjoribanks, Kaiya (2 July 2008). "Dollar Keep Tight Grip on Trophy". Stirling Observer. Retrieved 19 October 2008.
  2. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "RSPBA 2015 Results".
  4. ^ "RSPBA 2014 Dollar Academy Results".
  5. ^ "Dollar Academy News Article – World Pipe Band Championships".
  6. ^ "Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade - Database <Vessel Owner: McNabb>". Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  7. ^ "History of Dollar Academy". Archived from the original on 7 January 2007. Retrieved 3 August 2006.
  8. ^ Plans of W H Playfair
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Dollar Academy Information for Pupils Booklet 2014–2015" (PDF).
  11. ^
  12. ^ Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0-902-198-84-X.
  13. ^

External linksEdit