A Year in Review with Anthony Simpson, our Newly Appointed Principal

Posted on 27th Jun 2022 in Stewart's Melville College, ESMS, The Mary Erskine School, The Junior School

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Anthony Simpson as Principal of ESMS. Anthony joined ESMS a year ago, as Head of Stewart’s Melville College and has impressed the Governors with his strong leadership and ambitious plans for the school.  We caught up with Anthony before the end of term to find out more about his first year and his plans for the new role.

You hit the ground running last August. Tell us about your first year at ESMS?

It’s been a fantastic first year. As with any new role, there has been lots to learn and a lot of meetings but I have loved becoming a part of the ESMS community and getting really involved in school life. I’ve also really enjoyed the teaching side of my role. Getting to know my S3 Maths class and PSE classes has been brilliant. 

The warmth you feel across the campus is great. The students are fantastic and there is a genuine interest from the teachers in both the curriculum and the students.

What would you say has been the highlight of your first year?

Carbisdale is always a highlight in the school calendar, so it was a real honour to experience it for the first time. It is evident how much it benefits both the students and the staff. The relationships that are formed as a result help to make the school a closer and more understanding community.

I have loved seeing all of the sport that takes place at the weekend with so many students enjoying themselves on our various pitches. We’ve had some fantastic successes this year. Making it to the Cup Final for Football and Rugby and to the National Finals for Squash, and our five wins in Golf at the ISGA Scottish Schools Open are just a few of the achievements that have given me an immense feeling of pride.

I have also really enjoyed seeing all the Music and Drama productions, the scholars' concerts, and the dedication given to CCF and Duke of Edinburgh is outstanding. The number of clubs and societies we have here is fantastic. There’s everything from Chinese Culture, War Hammer, Astronomy, History Café, Green Fingers, and SMC Aid to Formula 1 and Chess, to name but a few. The students are also in the midst of helping us set up a new competitive Chess Club, meaning we’ll be able to compete against other schools next session.

And for all these activities, it’s the dedication of the staff that really hits home. They are out helping and supporting the students at the weekends, in their own time, because they love the opportunity it gives the students.

In August you will take up the role of Principal of ESMS. What are you looking forward to most about the new role?

I am really looking forward to the opportunity to work with and help shape the future of these three remarkable schools; it is a great honour.

We already have a strong reputation in Edinburgh, and beyond, and my role will be to ensure that the quality and breadth of education that we offer continues to be world-class, as well as exploring new and innovative ways of enhancing the student experience going forward.

Overall, I am excited for the year ahead. We’ve got fantastic teachers with excellent subject knowledge and a real passion for what they teach. I have such confidence that this will continue to be the case and coupled with the provisions we are making to our wellbeing programme, the future is bright!

As Principal how do plan to continue to stay connected to the students?

I think face-to-face contact with the students is so important and it is something I plan to continue to make time for in my new role. As Head of School, I was in the playground at break times, walking around and meeting the students in between classes and popping my head into lessons whenever I could. As Principal of three schools I may need to be a bit creative about how I achieve that face-to-face time but it will continue to be a priority. I will be teaching two Advanced Higher classes next year, which we cannot reallocate at this late stage of the year, and I am delighted with this, as I love being in the classroom with the students.

As the year comes to an end what advice do you have for our students?

To the students who are leaving, you have undoubtably had a difficult few years, but the strength you will have developed as a result of that will stand you in good stead going forward, even though it may not seem like that now. What’s more, the non-academic learning you have enjoyed here at ESMS will also put you in a strong position to take on whatever comes next.

And for those who are returning… enjoy the summer. Have a proper break. Read – lots! That’s always going to be my advice. Don’t worry about it being subject specific, just enjoy looking at any pre-reading that piques your interest. I look forward to welcoming you all back after the holidays!


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