Danny Costello

Yesterday was the last day of term for many schools across Scotland and the beginning of a well-earned period of rest and recuperation for our teachers. Last night I attended a retirement dinner held in honour of a wonderful man who gave me great support as a young teacher and inspired me throughout my career.

Danny Costello was appointed as principal teacher of PE when Wester Hailes Education Centre (WHEC) opened on the western edge of Edinburgh in 1978. He was soon appointed as assistant head (now depute) and has worked in that role for close to 20 years.

Danny always put the young people of Wester Hailes first and never faltered from the principle of unconditional positive regard. He is a brilliant teacher, an inspirational sports coach, a fantastic colleague and a great friend. He could talk for Scotland and has more energy than anyone I have ever met. His commitment to Wester Hailes is one of remarkable, unselfish and distinguished public service. I wish him a long, happy and well-deserved retirement from WHEC in the knowledge that he will continue to use his energies to the benefit of others.

Wester Hailes Education Centre was years ahead of its time when it opened in 1978. A purpose built community learning centre, integrating a high school with community education, sport and leisure facilities. It was designed to help Wester Hailes become a learning community rather than just provide a school from 0900 to 1600. WHEC was the first school in Scotland to ban the belt, the first to have carpets, the first to have every teacher a guidance teacher, at the forefront in the use of technology for learning and had an explicit child-centred philosophy – ‘The Ethos’. My experience as a newly qualified teacher at WHEC stood me in good stead for every other job I have had and continues to give me the confidence to struggle for what really matters in education.


  1. Its funny how much of a small word education is.

    As a student teacher at WHEC I had been in the building for about 2 hours and Danny said to me, ‘son, I hear you our qualified to take kids canoeing?’

    I said, ‘yes’.

    Danny said, ‘right, we are going on a residential next week to Loch Lomond’.

    I said, ‘OK’.

    We shared a room for the next five days. I had a great time learning from Danny and after the residential experienced no discipline problems at WHEC.

    Throughout my teaching career I have used this story lots of times when trying to encourage NQT’s and other members of staff to get involved in residential work.

    When the PT Geography moved to north, I lost touch with Danny. Please pass on my regards and wish him a happy retirement. (and of course let him know there is anyways supply at Musselburgh Grammar School!)

    I loved my 6 weeks at WHEC!

  2. James Brown

    Danny was my PE teacher in 1979. My kids asked where I was educated and whilst googling I came across this. It is great to hear Danny continued to inspire students and educators for many more years. I wish him all the best in his retirement.
    WHEC (1979-1985)
    South Australia

  3. Tom Coll

    This sounds very much like the Danny Costello that I did my first teaching practice at Lourdes Primary School in 1969. In Danny’s first few days he seemed to know every kid and produced remarkable lessons. The kids adored him. Danny had already worked as an uncertificated teacher in Edinburgh for a couple of years before college at Jordanhill. (It was legal then).
    I shared a flat with Danny but lost touch in 1972. Lots of good memories. He obviously never lost the faith or the enegy. From Mulwaree High, best wishes Danny.