Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships

scottish schools pipes and drums trust logoHere are the full results from yesterday’s very successful fourth annual Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships held at Broughton High School, Edinburgh:






George Watson’s College

Dollar Academy

Preston Lodge High School

Novice Juvenile ‘A’

Dollar Academy

North Lanarkshire Schools

George Watson’s College

Novice Juvenile ‘B’

Lochalsh Schools

George Watson’s College

Knox Academy

Junior ‘A’

St Columba’s School

Gordonstoun School

Fettes College

Junior ‘B’

Ullapool High School

The Glasgow Academy

Dundee Schools


Portree High School

Stranraer Academy

Tobermory High School

Piping Quartets

Dumfries Schools

Lochgilphead High School

St Andrew’s RC High School ‘A’

Freestyle Musical Ensemble

The High School of Glasgow

Gordonstoun School

Sgoil Lionacleit

The total entry across all the competitions in the Championships was 84, involving 118 different schools (representing a 10.5% increase over last year).  Inevitably there were a number of withdrawals for various reasons.

The Championships have received strong support from Scottish schools, geographical consideration no bar to taking part. The number of entries have increased year on year.

  • 17 new school or combined schools pipe bands have been sustained for at least two years since the first SSPBC in 2013.
  • Four of these bands have since registered with the RSPBA and will compete regularly in RSPBA competitions.
  • In addition three school/combined schools pipe bands registered with the RSPBA for the 2013 or 2014 seasons used the SSPBC for their first pipe band competition experience.
  • An additional seven new school/combined schools pipe bands competed in the SSPBC in 2016.

Prizemoney was considerable and in addition bands received significant assistance with travel and accommodation costs.

1st 2nd 3rd
Juvenile £500 £300 £200
Novice Juvenile A £500 £300 £200
Novice Juvenile B £500 £300 £200
Junior A £500 £300 £200
Junior B £500 £300 £200
Debut £500 £300 £200
Quartets £250 £150 £100
Freestyle £500 £250 £150

david-johnston,-SSPDTDuring the contest organiser David Johnston (left) spoke to Piping Press about the Championships and the work being done by the promoter, the Scottish Schools Pipe and Drum Trust.

‘We have schools from the Outer Isles down to the Scottish Borders so we are really delighted with the turn out. We  have had 800 plus children giving 76 performances and everything running on time!’ David went on: ‘This is the first year that the Championships has been fully funded by the Trust and it is very much a showcase event to try to encourage the formation of pipe bands, particularly in state schools in Scotland especially those where there aren’t any at the moment.

‘We try to create a safe competing environment where schools dipping their toes in the water for the first time can play against bands that are at the same level as them without their being swamped by some of the bigger, longer established bands.

‘We help with their travelling. For instance the school from Benbecula spends about £5,000 to get here for a weekend away. It is a lot of money. When we take into account what we pay to help the bands it probably costs about somewhere between £25 – £30,000 to stage the Championships. In terms of the Trust’s overall investment in 2015 we are certainly talking six figures.

Prrston Lodge High School compete in the Novice 'B' category
Prrston Lodge High School compete in the Novice Juvenile ‘B’ category

‘This is privately funded, the seed corn as it were, but what we are doing now is trying to draw quite a few other bodies together to help, local authorities and commercial companies. We have an announcement coming up quite shortly on one new business sponsor. People come to an event like this and they see the value  and the good that it does and that is before we gather the evidence of the effect it has educationally and by creating self esteem and self-confidence among young people how a pipe band can transform the lives of not only those playing in the band but also those in the wider school community.

‘The SSPBT has 16 projects going on at the moment with over 1,000 kids learning pipes and drums. We hope quite a lot of them will take part next year as quartets or as debut bands in the 2017 championships. A lot of this year’s quartets left today saying they are coming back next year as full bands which is exactly what we want.

‘I will tell you an interesting statistic; it is my favourite to do with this whole event. There is no piping in Aberdeenshire schools, no piping instructor. We have started a project in Banff Academy and its feeder primary schools  and we have 120 learner pipers. That’s more people getting in-class pipe tuition than all the state schools in Glasgow and Edinburgh combined. Added to which Aberdeenshire council just this month have recognised the demand and benefit and, despite budget cuts, they are now interviewing for a full-time piping instructor.

‘We have one piping instructor between Edinburgh and Glasgow who teaches mainly in one school in Glasgow and in Edinburgh there is no in school pipe tuition. You can learn any instrument in an Edinburgh state school apart from the great Highland bagpipe, unless you are doing it for an SQA exam.

The far travelled Sgoil Lionacleit from Benbecula in the Western isles
The far-travelled Sgoil Lionacleit from Benbecula in the Western isles

‘We have specific plans to tackle these two problem areas. We have a project underway in Tynecastle High School in Edinburgh and we hope to have a quartet from them in this competition next year and possibly a band. Over in Glasgow we have the Govan project in association with the Govan Weavers and they produced a band this year and did a fantastic job.

‘There is a huge demand in both cities. There is a massive amount of piping going on in the state sector but all in after-school classes and clubs paid for by parents who are trying to meet this demand, but it is time the local authorities stopped offering music on the basis of supply i.e. we’ve got ten trumpet teachers so let’s find some kids to play the trumpet and met the demand there is for piping tuition.

‘Personally, this is not a full-time job for me but it is so rewarding. Just look around today and you can see the camaraderie and all these kids having a good day out.’