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A History of Rannoch
The Schools of Rannoch


Early reports concerning the district in the 18th century are full of the pitful plight of the people who had the greatest difficulty keeping body and soul together and yet it is a wonderful thing to learn that through all the discouraging conditions they struggled to get their children educated.  Although there was no church at Rannoch at the beginning of the 18th century, the Society for Propogation of Christian Knowledge who concerned themselves with instructing the young in principles of the Christian--especially the Calvinist--faith founded the first school here in 1732.  Their aim was to teach the children to read; the chief object of reading to know the Bible and the Catechism.

SCHOOLS OF RANNOCH

1. 1732.………Aulich……………………………..Numbers not known
2. 1732.………Killichonan……………………….75
3.  1734.……..Innerhadden………………………Numbers not known
4.  1742.…..…Carie……………………………...42
5.   1748.……..Drumchastle………………………Numbers not known
6.   1753.……..Finnart……………………………70
7.    1753.…….Bunrannoch………………………80 (Later joined the Kinloch Rannoch School)
8.    1753.…….Murlaggan………………………..63 (Sometimes called Mt. Alexander or Dunalastair)
9.    1758.…….Laganiasgair………………………65
10.  1760.……East Tempar…………………….…60
11.  1760.……Braes of Rannoch…………………32 (Later became Georgetown)
12.   1765.……Camghouran……………………..30
13.   1773.……Kinloch Rannoch…………………63
14.   1810.……Auchtarsin………………………..69
15.    1865……Dall……………………………….20
16.    1900.……Rannoch Station…………………22
17.    1959.……Rannoch Station………………….260

(Many of these figures are taken from Dr A.W. Harding’s excellent research of the old schools of the area.)

Note:--1. The number of pupils is the maximum recorded at any one time.
          2. The date is when the schools started.
          3. The places and numbers can be found on the enclosed map.
          4. Dugal Buchanan in 1753 also writes of schools at ‘Glengarry and Glenerechy’.  Whether these are schools included above under different names or whether they are two more to be added to the list I am not sure.

It was at Aulich, a small settlement on the north side of Loch Rannoch, that it was felt there was the greatest need for a school.  At first they could not get any one to come to teach at a place whose people had a reputation for ‘lawlessness and savagery’.  However, the school opened with a Duncan Cameron as teacher.  He had been tested by the Presbytery of Dunkeld who felt that although he could ‘read English well’, he would not be able to cope with the management of the school.. They were probably right because he only stayed a year.  Nevertheless he established it sufficiently for it to last until February, 1741.  It is not recorded how many pupils there were at Aulich, but in the same year another school was established at the larger settlement of Killichonan and its numbers in September, 1749 were 75, 58 boys and 17 girls.

In 1743 the Society for Propogation of Christian Knowledge offered money for a school to be set up at Bunrannoch.  It was actually opened at Innerhadden but they could not persuade any teacher to volunteer for such a remote posting.  They suggested that a George Park be moved from his school at Strathbraan.  The poor chap was horrified at the suggestion and appealed strongly against it but to no avail.  He was ordered to come.  He was probably bribed with the promise of higher remuneration for it was recorded that his salary was J9 a year which was more than other teachers were paid at that time.  But he had a hopeless task.  He could not speak Gaelic and the children could not speak English.  It was a policy of the S.P.C.K. ’to root out the Erse language’ as being a barrier to the spread of religion but it certainly made the task of such men as George Park difficult; so much so that he gave up the struggle and ran away never to return.

Education at Rannoch in the early days undoubtedly had its problems.  Not only was it difficult to persuade teachers to come, particularly when there was nothing in the way of accommodation for them, but also because there was often no suitable place to house a school.  The people were firm, though, in their determination to have their children educated.  We find that sometimes schools were held in stables, in byres, in bothies and in cottages set aside for their use where ’the thatch roof became rotten and swarming with rats and the rain poured in on the children.’  The windows were without glass and the rooms dense with the smoke from the peat fire.  Each child was obliged to bring a piece of peat each day.  They would need to be warmed up after some of them had traveled miles over the hills barefoot to be there at seven o’clock in the morning.  Once there they had to sit or lie on the floor to do their lessons.

But one school after another opened in the district.  John Knox in 1550 had dreamed of a school in every parish, but in Rannoch his dream was far exceeded.  Gradually conditions improved.  From a report of Kinloch Rannoch School in 1772 we learn that they were comfortably housed with a separate house for the Dominie.  They were taught Reading and Writing and their books consisted of an English Collection, Proverbs, Gulliver’s Travels, a Spelling book, the Bible, the Gaelic Testament, the Catechism and a story of the Greek mythological hero, Telemachus.  Some of the schools are reported as teaching Latin.  Education such as this more than any other thing changed the outlook and reputation of the area.  John Knox had looked to a time when a clever boy, however poor, would be able to proceed from the local school to the Town or Burgh School where he would learn Latin and Greek, and perhaps Hebrew, and thence to University.  A much better future than their parents had was now available for the young people of Rannoch.

And so from the area that had for years harbored freebooters, broken men and men on the run were to come men and women of education in some cases of high learning.  Because of the severe depopulation of the valley there are now only three schools.  Georgetown School has a handful of pupils, Kinloch Rannoch School is flourishing with 50 and the 25 year old Independent Rannoch School welcomes its 260 boys and girls from all over the world.


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