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Elgin Academy teacher Ian Davidson retires after 43 years with school

By Chris Saunderson

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AFTER a teaching career devoted almost exclusively to one school, Ian Davidson left the classroom for the final time today.

It is fair to describe Ian as a stalwart of Elgin Academy, having taught there for 43 years.

Once he became embedded in the way of life at the academy, Ian admitted he never saw any reason to leave what he considers the best school in Moray.

Elgin Academy teacher Ian Davidson retired from the Moray school today after 43 years. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Elgin Academy teacher Ian Davidson retired from the Moray school today after 43 years. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

However, Ian (65), admitted the time had now come to devote himself to other passions in his life – namely family, golf – he is a member at Elgin, and fly fishing.

He joined the academy in 1978 as a PE teacher having served his newly-qualified teacher year at his hometown school of Pitlochry High, after graduating from Jordanhill College.

“It was a huge culture shock as Pitlochry had 280 pupils and Elgin Academy then was 1800, as it was the only secondary in Elgin at the time,” he said.

Nowadays, it has a student population of around 1000, and Ian, a guidance teacher since 1994, admits he will miss the children and all staff – teachers and support staff.

“Some people have their career planned out. I never had that kind of plan, I just enjoyed teaching. I became part of the community in Elgin and we had three boys who all went through the school,” he added.

Ian and wife Fiona, who is principal teacher of religious and moral education at Elgin, have three sons, Sean, Josh and Rory, and grandchildren Callum, who is one, and Millie, four months. They met while Fiona, who is from Edinburgh, was a teacher at Keith Grammar, and they have been married for nearly 34 years.

Ian Davidson admits Elgin Academy will remain in his heart. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Ian Davidson admits Elgin Academy will remain in his heart. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

The pandemic has not only been hard for the school community, but Ian and Fiona’s family too, and although they have seen lots of Millie, who lives in Elgin, they have yet to meet grandson Callum, who lives in Australia with dad Sean and mum Michelle.

Ian and Fiona had hoped to fly Down Under last summer for a family get-together, but travel restrictions put paid to that, and ongoing restrictions and another lockdown ruled out a reunion at Christmas.

With light at the end of the tunnel, Ian hopes they can make it to Oz later this year or early next year.

A keen footballer, Ian actually took on rugby when he first arrived at Elgin Academy, and enjoyed games and tours all over Scotland with the players.

“Friendship in sport was really important then,” he said.

His first head teacher was Alistair Glashan. Another was Innes McDonald – one of seven head teachers in Ian’s time at the school – and also his football manager during a five-year spell as a left-sided midfielder with Nairn County. He also played for Lossiemouth, New Elgin and Fochabers, where he was also manager. He coached the school football time for a period.

Ian moved into the guidance department in 1994 and since then, has been responsible for providing advice, support and mentoring for successive generations of pupils.

“The move into that kind of role was an easy one. Seeing young people develop into young adults and being able to help them on that journey.”

Ian admits the demands on staff and pupils have become greater over the last 10 years, but he still loves teaching and working with young people, and their families.

He said the current lockdown has had a greater impact on pupils and staff, given the length of time it has gone on over the winter months, however, he said children have engaged well with online learning.

A sixth-year group described him as a positive influence who cared for and was always there for them – which he thought was touching.

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