As successor to Mr. Taylor the Education Committee chose Mr. William McL. Dewar, a First-Class Honours Graduate of Edinburgh University and Principal Teacher of Classics in Dumfries Academy. Mr. Dewar, who was only thirty-six years of age at the time of his appointment, shouldered his task with enthusiasm and zeal. A less energetic man might have been content to postpone until the end of hostilities any plans for educational advance but Mr. Dewar faced with boldness and resource the difficulties and limitations imposed by war-time conditions. The problem of accommodation was temporarily relieved when the classrooms in the Infant Annexe were derequisitioned but with the rapid rise of the roll to over nine hundred the difficulties again became acute. Nevertheless, Mr. Dewar forged ahead with plans to broaden the curriculum and make better provision for practical pursuits. New courses were devised in Commercial and Technical subjects. There were still no premises or equipment for instruction in Cookery and Housewifery but Domestic Science courses right up to Leaving Certificate level were nevertheless introduced, suitable accommodation having been acquired for this purpose in the Finnart School. Full Leaving Certificate courses in History and Geography were also organised and placed under the direction of specialist teachers.
Much credit is due to Mr. Dewar for his successful efforts to foster training in citizenship, to develop gifts of “leadership” and to strengthen generally the school’s “esprit de corps.” As a means to this end the Prefect system was introduced and the pupils were divided into four “Houses—Atlantic, Matapan, Narvik and Taranto. By the award of special trophies inter-house rivalry was stimulated in athletics, music and drama, school examinations and—last but not least—”service to the school.” Every encouragement was given to the development of extra-curricular activities including the recruitment of a unit of the Women’s Junior Air Force and an Army Cadet Force company. It was Mr. Dewar, too, who promoted the formation of the Parents’ Association which has done much to foster cooperation between teachers and parents and has contributed in many ways to the welfare of the pupils.
Mr. Dewar’s record of achievement in six very difficult years was impressive and it came as no surprise when in 1947 he was chosen for one of the highest posts in Scottish education, the Headmastership of George Heriot’s School in Edinburgh.
In the years 1941-1945 a number of teachers who had served the school well for many years left on promotion or retirement. In 1941 Mr. Dow, Depute Rector and Principal Teacher of English, was promoted to a headmastership. A man of varied interests and wide-ranging mind, he aroused in his pupils a lively curiosity and interest in his subject, and was a worthy successor to Mr. Anderson and Mr. Taylor. In this period, also, Miss Keddie, the Lady Superintendent, and Miss E. Logie, the Infant Mistress, retired. Miss Keddie in her work in the Modern Languages Department and in supervising the girls maintained the high tradition established by Miss Menzies, while Miss Logie’s conduct of her department won the respect of all and ensured a sound foundation for the future educational development of her pupils. To the assistants whose long and devoted service at last received recognition the school owes a debt of gratitude, and pupils will long remember John Thomson, Hamish McKenzie, Robert Morrison and Hugh Craig.