Madras College, often referred to as Madras, is a Scottish comprehensive secondary school located in St Andrews, Fife. It educates over 1,400 pupils aged between 11 and 18 and was founded in 1833 by the Rev. Dr Andrew Bell.

Madras College
Madras College's Original South Street Site
, ,
KY16 9EJ

Coordinates56°20′17″N 2°47′53″W / 56.338°N 2.798°W / 56.338; -2.798
MottoLatin: Pro Rege Et Grege
(For King and People[1])
Established1833; 191 years ago (1833)
FounderRev. Dr Andrew Bell
RectorKen Currie[2]
Age11 to 18
Enrolment1243 (2018)
  •   Blackfriars
  •   Castle
  •   Priory
  •   Swilken
Colour(s)Navy and White
PublicationMadras College Magazine
Abbey Times
School YearsS1-S6



Madras College, founded in 1833, takes its name from the system of education devised by the school's founder, the Rev. Dr Andrew Bell FRSE. However, the origins of the school can be traced to at least the 1490s, through its predecessor institution, the Grammar School of St Andrews.[3]

Bell was born in St Andrews in 1753, the son of a local magistrate and wig-maker. He studied at the University of St Andrews where he distinguished himself in mathematics. He became a clergyman of the Church of England and took up an appointment as chaplain to the regiments of the East India Company in Madras (known since 1996 as Chennai), India. One of his duties was to educate the soldiers' children. Because there was a shortage of teachers, he used the older students, who had been taught the lesson by the master, to instruct groups of younger pupils. The pupils who assisted the teacher were called 'monitors'. This method of education became widely used in schools at home and abroad.

After his return from India, Dr Bell made it his life's work to travel the country and encourage schools to adopt 'the Madras system', as it had come to be known. By the time of his death in 1832, over 10,000 schools were using his methods.

Madras College; the senior school building on South Street, St Andrews

Madras College was founded in 1832 at the bequest and expense of Bell, as the amalgamation of several St Andrews schools. The first amalgamation was in 1833 when the old Grammar School of St Andrews was joined with the "English" school (founded in the 1750s) to form the Madras College. The origin of these names being that the Grammar School was taught mostly in Latin while the "English" school used English only. The Grammar School stood on the grounds between Blackfriars' Church and Lade Braes; the "English" school was on the grounds behind the Church of Holy Trinity, approximately where the town library is today.

The second amalgamation happened in 1963, when Madras College was merged with the Burgh School (founded 1889, based in Abbey Walk). As part of this amalgamation and the introduction of comprehensive education, a new school building was contracted on Kilrymont Road, a mile and a half from the South Street building. The Kilrymont building was constructed in a modernist style, with adjacent playing fields and was opened in 1967. The school was the only secondary school in Scotland on a split site.

The school catchment area takes in a large part of rural north east Fife, and most of the pupils are transported in from the surrounding area by buses.

The badge is a chevron between three bells – a reference to Dr. Bell. The Latin motto is "pro rege et grege" which is customarily translated as "For King and People".

Bell also left money for schools in Inverness (Faraline Park, now Inverness Library), Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leith (Commercial Street) and Cupar (now called Bell Baxter High School, formerly Madras Academy).

In 2021 the school moved into a new building in Bell Brae, north-west of town, built at a cost of £50 million.[4][needs update]





From the foundation of Madras College in 1833 until 1888, the school was run by a board of trustees. As part of a series of reforms made at Madras in 1888/89, the position of rector was established. Since 1889 the rectors have been:

  • 1889–1915 Mr L. St John, MA
  • 1915–1920 Mr L. J. Gallacher, MA
  • 1920–1923 Mr R. Holme, MA
  • 1923–1941 Mr J. D. McPetrie, MA
  • 1941–1955 Mr N. Macleod, MA
  • 1955–1975 Dr John Thompson, MA
  • 1975–1985 Dr I. D. Gilroy, MA
  • 1985–1997 Mr D. D. Galloway, MA
  • 1997–2007 Mr L. S. G. Matheson, MA
  • 2007–2013 Mr I. Jones
  • 2013–2020 Mr D. McClure, B.Sc.[4]
  • 2020-2021 Mrs A. McNeill[4]
  • 2021–Present Mr K. Currie


Charles Lapworth plaque at Madras College

Notable former pupils



  • Galloway, D. D. (1989). In the Footsteps of Dr Bell. St Andrews: Madras College
  • Gilroy, I. D. (1997). The Rev Dr Andrew Bell: Founder of Madras College. St Andrews: Madras College
  • Lamont-Brown, R. (2006). St Andrews: City by the Northern Sea. Edinburgh: Birlinn
  • Southey, R. (1844). The Life of Rev. Andrew Bell: Comprising the History of the Rise and Progress of the System of Mutual Tuition. London: John Murray
  • Stephen, K. (1983). Andrew Bell F.R.S.E. (1753–1832). Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh History of Medicine and Science Unit
  • Thompson, J. (1983). The Madras College 1833–1983. Fife: Fife Educational Resource Centre


  1. ^ a b c d e "Fife Council: Schools by region A-Z". 22 April 2008. Retrieved 4 September 2022.
  2. ^ Mulholland, Sheanne (30 November 2020). "Madras College: New head teacher Ken Currie on how he will help pupils reach their potential". Retrieved 22 January 2022.
  3. ^ "Wayback Machine has not archived that URL". Retrieved 26 September 2023.
  4. ^ a b c Peebles, Cheryl (3 July 2020). "First female Madras College rector will lead the historic school into a new era". The Courier. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  5. ^ "Lapworth, Charles". Who's Who. Vol. 59. 1907. p. 1020.
  6. ^ Alexander, Michael (2017). "St Andrews-raised music engineer Olga launches national campaign for shared parental pay". Dundee: The Courier. Archived from the original on 16 January 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2021.