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Irene McGrath BEM

When Irene McGrath retired on the last day of the summer term, it brought to an end an amazing 42 years of service to the High School of Dundee!

Irene McGrath

Irene joined the School in 1980, as Assistant Principal Teacher of Modern languages. As well as teaching French and Russian, from 1985 onwards she also marked Higher papers in those two subjects.

From 2000 onwards, Mrs McGrath began writing UCAS references for HSD pupils, gradually taking on responsibility for all Oxbridge applications, and then medical ones too.

After being appointed Head of Academic Administration in 2007, Irene took over responsibility for co-ordinating all UCAS references, before taking on the role of overseeing all UCAS Personal Statements as well. Functions which have allowed her to play an invaluable role in helping thousands of HSD pupils to fulfil their university ambitions over the years!   

But everyone who knows Irene knows that, alongside her teaching, UCAS and administration work, she has long held another very important passion – debating!

Irene has been involved in Scottish schools debating for more than 45 years, and in her role as the School’s debating coach since she joined HSD, has helped hundreds of our pupils discover the joys of debating and develop their skills in the art!

Under her tutelage, an impressive 13 out of the last 24 (four person) Scottish teams for the annual World Schools Debating Championships (WSDC) have contained a High School debater.

Irene has served as a member of the Scottish Schools International Debating Council – which organises and supports the Scottish team for the WSDC - since 2003 and chaired the body from 2007-2017.

One of her proudest debating achievements was having been Convenor of the WSDC in 2011, when, with strong support from Dundee City Council and all its schools, Dundee hosted over 400 participants from 48 nations for the ten-day event.

She has attended every WSDC since 2003 as an adjudicator and is currently secretary of the International Board of Directors of WSDC.

And all of this amazing work was recognised in the 2019 New Year’s Honours List when Irene was awarded a Medal of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of her services to Scottish schools debating!

We thank Irene for her fantastic, dedicated service to the High School and we wish her a long and happy retirement!