As the building was still incomplete, the official opening would have to wait......

School Layout

HE Department
The layout of the school when it first opened was a bit different to what it is now.  

The original foyer was bright and airy with large windows letting the light in and was also wider than it is today.   Today, the foyer is a lot narrower with the area around the large windows having been narrowed and converted to offices.

The Art Department was originally located on the 3rd Floor along with the Geography department.  The Art Department is now located on the Ground Floor in a newer section of the building that connects the original building and the remaining parts of the 70's built extension where the original outdoor walkway between them was located.   The Geography Department is now located on the 2nd floor as part of the Humanities faculty, with the 3rd Floor converted to house the Maths and Computing Departments.  

The Home Economics classrooms remain in their original location but has reduced in size with three classrooms remaining from the original five. 

The library was originally located on the 1st floor at the M8 end of the building, before moving up into the extension and then returning back to the main building when most of the 70s built extension was demolished.   The space used by the original library was converted into three classrooms and a staff base, currently occupied by the Modern Languages and Drama departments.    Today's library is located in the corner of the foyer in the space where the original Janitor's room, prefects common room and student common rooms were located.  

Art Room
Opposite those rooms were the typing and book keeping classrooms, these rooms were converted to the Staff room and Staff toilets during 2003.  

The pupil entrance was located on the Ground Floor of the main block and this area was mostly made up of cloakrooms for pupils and year groups.   The pupil entrance was relocated to a newly built social area in 2003, which is joined on to the side of the assembly hall and links the Foyer with the Academy Cafe (Canteen).   The area where pupil entrance and cloakrooms used to be located now contain the Learning Support Department, Small Group Setting classroom, the House Base, Medical Room and interview rooms.   

Until 2003, the Management Corridor held the Staff room, medical rooms, secretary's room, Rector and Deputy Rector's office.  Today, this corridor contains the Janitor's room, Headteacher's Office, Deputy Headteacher's Offices, the Business Support Manager's Office, a Meeting Room and a Conference Room (located where the original staff room once was) .

Session 1967-68

Whitburn Academy 1967
At the beginning of  Session 1967-68, Whitburn Academy opened with a roll of 1122 pupils, however the building was 33% over capacity as it was only built to hold 845 pupils!  There were 70 members of staff including the Rector, teachers, office staff, technicians and janitors.   The school motto in the beginning was "Palmam Ferat Qui Meruit" which converted to English means "Let him who has earned it bear the reward".  

A full curriculum was offered to pupils at O level, Higher and Sixth Year Studies level, the subject available being: English, Maths, Geography, History, French, Latin, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Music, Technical (DMG), Homecraft (Home Economics) and Commerce (Business Studies).  

As well as the full curriculum, Extra Curricular Activities were also offered, these included: the Debating Club, the Orienteering Club, the Folk-song Club, Film Society, Literary Society, Aero-Modelling Club, Photographic Club and the Skiing Club.   School Trips included: a trip to the theatre to see 'The Marriage of Figaro', a visit to the Royal Mile in Edinburgh and to Edinburgh Zoo.

Building works

As the pupils and staff settled into their brand new school buildings, there was chaos all around them as work to the heating system was still ongoing and at least 22 rooms were unavailable as they were full of builders materials and equipment that was still to be installed.  

In the School log book, Whitburn Academy's first Rector, D.K. Sommerville, gave an account about the chaotic conditions which the pupils and staff endured during the first few months, most of which would give today's Health and Safety Officials nightmares!  

Initially, the Language Laboratory had no equipment installed as the supplier refused to fit anything whilst work was still ongoing in the room.   In the Science Labs and Homecraft (Home Economics) rooms, there was no gas, water or electricity, the storage cupboards were incomplete and the ovens in Homecraft had yet to be installed.   Meanwhile, the Technical Department had to finish building the desks and worktops in their own department by themselves!

In the Assembly Hall, the under stage storage area was underwater and work was still in progress to complete the interior of the hall, which was also being used for storage of large piles of new books and equipment.   In the main Foyer, contractors were still trying to lay the floor tiles meaning staff had to walk over planks to reach the staff room!  In the Commerce department (Business Studies), it was discovered that the fitted desks were too small and the typewriters were fitted too close together meaning the mechanical carriage returns would collide with each other as the pupils were typing!  

Whitburn Academy Foyer
A note to all staff and pupils was issued in the early days warning them to be careful not to cut their hands on the rough, as yet unpainted iron railings on the staircases, which hadn't yet received their wooden banisters.   More alarming was the note that was issued for everyone to beware of the manholes in the corridors being left open whilst work on the building continued.    The log book details that four pupils and a member of staff managed to fall down one of the open manholes.   Fortunately, the member of staff managing to remain upright thanks to his umbrella!

With all the building works going on around the school building, there wasn't space for the new intake of S1 pupils in the building.   They had to be housed in the old Whitburn Junior Secondary school on East Main Street, which would later become part of Whitdale Primary School and was demolished in 2012. 

    original badge

    Official Opening

    By Easter 1968, most of the disruptive building works had been completed, meaning the Official Opening of the school could finally be arranged.   The school was officially opened by Peter Walker Esq., who was Justice of the Peace and County Convener at the time on  Friday 19th April 1968.  

    The ceremony included a welcome by Gavin Howieson, Chairman of the Education Committee, remarks by W. Brown, the Provost of Whitburn and also by D.K. Sommerville, Rector of Whitburn Academy, Prayer of Dedication by Rev. W. Hume, the School Chaplain entertainment by the Junior and Senior Choirs of the school, a Vote of Thanks by James Boyle the vice convener of West Lothian County Council and the Benediction by Rev. W. McMartin.

    A copy of the official program from the opening of the school can be found in the downloads section at the foot of the page.

    Despite all the chaos and disruption caused by the building works during that first year, the school managed to achieve an exceptional 358 'O' Grades and 118 Higher Grades in the S.C.E exams and a Sixth Year Studies Certificate in French.

    School extension and further developments

    As the population of Whitburn and the surrounding area grew with a large number of people being rehoused from the tenement areas of Glasgow and also the catchment area changing, the school buildings, which were already overcrowded, could not take any more people, meaning more accomodation was needed.   An extension was built separate from the main building in the early 1970's.  The extension included a new games hall, library, lecture theatre and a number of classrooms. In addition to this, numerous temporary classrooms and huts were installed in both the front and back playgrounds.   The first Rector, D.K. Sommerville moved on and was replaced by R Young, who to date is the longest serving Rector of Whitburn Academy, staying in post for 21 years.   

    The late 1980's saw the introduction of the first computers to the school with a small number of BBC computers being purchased.   It would be the 1990's before Computing was introduced as a subject and a number of Acorn and Apple Mac PC's were brought into the newly formed Computing Department, which was then located on the 2nd floor with its own server room.   R Young retired as Rector in 1990 and was replaced by David Williamson. 

    In 1992, the school celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a School Reunion being held for ex pupils and staff on Saturday 3rd October in the Assembly Hall.

    The new Millennium

    By 2000, the school roll had reduced and the buildings were badly in need of a refurbishment to improve facilities and this would come in 2003.   A large part of the 1970's building had to be demolished with only the portion containing the PE department being retained.  The 1970's building was built separately from the main building, the two buildings were joined together with the building of a new Art Department in the gap between the buildings.  The main entrance and foyer area was redesigned and made narrower with the school office, finance and reprographics rooms being built inside it.   A social area for the pupils was built on to the side of the main assembly hall and cladding was fitted to the outside of the main building to make it appear more modern.  

    As less space was available following the demolition of the extension and removal of the temporary buildings, a number of classrooms in the main building were reduced in size to allow more classrooms to be created.   Many departments were relocated to their current locations.

    The major refurbishment allowed for the introduction of new technology to the classrooms, with desktop computers being introduced to the computer labs and also onto teacher's desks. New technology also appeared on the form of ceiling mounted digital projectors and smartboards making lessons more interactive. 

    David Williamson retired as Rector in 2006 and was replaced in 2007 by Ian Adair.     

    In 2007 the school celebrated its 40th Anniversary with a "Ruby" themed week of celebrations including an open day, a concert and a balloon release.   Throughout the autumn and winter of 2007, Whitburn Academy was in the media spotlight when ex pupil, Leon Jackson, took part in and ultimately won the X Factor! Not only was this a proud moment for the school but also for the whole community of Whitburn.

    In 2011, Whitburn Academy became a 'School of Rugby' with a number of pupils receiving extra Rugby training and practice. 

    In 2012, the school had WiFi installed for the first time and purchased 140 Netbooks and 5 Trolleys to carry them.   This allowed the school to introduce mobile, wireless classrooms that would greatly enhance the learning and teaching of subjects.   In December 2012, the school had a visit from a famous star of stage and screen, Sir Ian McKellan, who came along to talk to the S3 and S4 pupils about the Stonewall organisation.    A month later in January 2013, the school hosted a conference which was organised by a group of our S6 pupils on behalf of Victim Support Scotland. HRH Princess Anne, the daughter of the late Queen Elizabeth and sister of King Charles was the guest speaker.

    In 2014 Whitburn Academy introduced Anytime Anywhere Learning, where pupils were able to access the internet using the school WiFi through their own phones, I-pads and laptops.

    Each year from 2014 - 2018, a small group of S3 History pupils took part in a project to create new banners to be displayed at the local War Memorial. The project, commemorated the one hundred year anniversary of the First World War. The banners were replaced on the corresponding year that shows notable events from one hundred years ago. The pupils carry out research of key events which took place during the corresponding year, with the banners being displayed at the war memorial.

    Ian Adair left Whitburn Academy in August 2016 and was replaced as Headteacher by Tracey Loudon in January 2017.

    In 2018 Whitburn Academy launched their 'Be Herd' Group, to raise awareness of and remove the stigma of mental health issues in Whitburn Academy and the local community.

    In 2019, our PEF Literacy Group attended the finals of the First Minister's Reaching Challenge in Glasgow.   Out of over 1200 entries, our group won the National Reading Inspiration award! Even better, we were the first secondary school ever to win this award!   Our Be Herd group won a West Lothian Stellar Award for Health and Wellbeing.   A few weeks later, they won the COSLA Gold award for Tackling Inequalities and Improving Health for the work they are doing to raise awareness and remove the stigma of mental health issues in Whitburn Academy and our local community.

    In 2022 we achieved the Digital Schools and Digital Wellbeing awards for digital wellbeing and cyber resilience and internet safety skills being embedded strategically and in classroom practice across the school.

    School Shows

    Throughout it's existence, Whitburn Academy has been well known for it's excellent school shows, here are some of the shows that the school has put on over the years (Unfortunately we don't have a full list):

    • 1981     Joseph and his Technicolor Dream coat
    • 1984     Grease
    • 1988     Godspell
    • 1989     Dracula Spectacula
    • 1991     Smike
    • 1992     Silver Jubilee Concert
    • 1993     All Aboard & Teen
    • 1994     Teenage Kicks
    • 1995     Oliver
    • 1996     The King and I
    • 1997     Stamps in their Eyes
    • 1998     Grease
    • 1999     Gregory's girl
    • 2002     Stamps in their Eyes
    • 2003     Stamps in their Eyes
    • 2004     Stamps in their Eyes
    • 2007     Ruby Concert
    • 2008     Dirty Greasy High School Musical
    • 2010     Whitburn's Got Talent
    • 2022     Aladdin
    • 2023     Extract from Grease

    Since Whitburn Academy opened in 1967, the school has only had five 5 Rectors / Headteachers:

    1967 - 1970: D.K. Somerville

    1970 - 1990: R Young

    1990 - 2006: D Williamson

    2007 - 2016: I Adair

    2017 - present: T Loudon