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.