The history of the development of education in Scotland is long, complex and fascinating. Particularly in a rural area such as the Highlands, we can very clearly see how education has impacted not simply upon individual lives but also how it has affected and at the same time mirrored great social, cultural and economic changes.

In journeying around the Highlands one cannot fail but to be struck by the number of buildings which from their configuration obviously started life as schools and which now are used for other purposes. This clearly reflects not just improvements in roads and means of transport but much more importantly and tellingly the great changes in rural population patterns which have occurred over the years.

In “Lessons by Loch Ness”, Anne Fraser opens the door on this history and shines a very clear light on the development of education in a tightly defined area of the Highlands.

In this meticulously researched description of school provision on the south side of Loch Ness, Anne brings this history to life through her detailed account of the life of each of the schools.

So importantly, we see not only the facts and documentary evidence but, through the stories, anecdotes and fascinating snapshots, we can begin to sense the reality of education, school life and community life in that area over the centuries.

Those like Anne Fraser who can capture the past for us and present it to us in a sensitive and compellingly readable way do a great service for our collective understanding of where we come from and what makes us who we are. How wonderful then that this book should have begun its life as a project with school pupils in Aldourie, a school which has been attended by at least five generations of her family.

How different our world is now from that so carefully researched and entertainingly recounted in “Lessons by Loch Ness” – yet surely we will all be much the better for reading this account of times and people past.


Hugh Fraser
Director of Education
Highland Council
2007 – 2014