A HEADTEACHER has been handed top marks by the Queen after his impressive success at an East Renfrewshire school earned him an OBE.

John Docherty has been in charge at St Ninian’s High, in Giffnock, for the last 15 years, during which it has regularly topped the exam league tables for Scotland.

Last year, it received the best inspection report of any secondary school in the country since new government ratings were introduced in 2015.

Mr Docherty spoke exclusively to the Barrhead News about being named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List the day after after former pupil Andy Robertson had captained Scotland’s national team to a penalty shootout victory against Israel at Hampden.

“It’s not only a fantastic personal honour for me but also recognition for the teachers and pupils,” said Mr Docherty.

“St Ninian’s is always in the top three or four schools in Scotland for exam results but we are just as proud of our success in the performing arts, dance, music and sport.

“There is a real focus on every child at St Ninian’s. What we try to do is build the character and compassion in young people so they can make a difference.”

Mr Docherty, 63, was told of his OBE in August but was ordered to keep the news from teachers and pupils until the official announcement was made on Friday night.

The only people who were in on the secret were his schoolteacher wife Helena and grown-up daughter Marie-Helena, who works as a doctor.

Mr Docherty, who was brought up in Glasgow’s tough Easterhouse housing estate, started out as a geography teacher at St Margaret’s High, in Airdrie, back in 1979.

This was quickly followed by promotions to St Columba of Iona, in Glasgow, and then Taylor High, in Carfin, both as a principal teacher.

In 1990, he was appointed assistant head at St Ninian’s before taking over as deputy at St Andrew’s Secondary, in Carntyne, in 1996.

Mr Docherty then became headteacher at St Andrew’s High, in Clydebank, in 2000, before moving into the St Ninian’s High hotseat in 2005.

One area where the school is particularly successful is science, with pupils winning the Scottish Qualification Authority’s top performance awards for physics, chemistry and biology in recent years.

Mr Docherty added: “None of our pupils has won a Nobel Prize but it wouldn’t surprise me if one did in the future.”

In 2010, he introduced Mandarin to the curriculum. Three years later, St Ninian’s High became the first school in Britain to be awarded the Confucius Classroom of the Year award by the Chinese government.

Mr Docherty and some of the pupils were even invited to Beijing in 2013 to receive their award.

He added: "St Ninian’s is a school where every individual is recognised. No-one is made to feel they are a forgotten person. The talent is there and it is our job to make sure it is brought to the fore.”

As a keen sports fan, Mr Docherty’s remaining ambition before he retires is for St Ninian’s High to win the prestigious under-18 Scottish Schools Shield, having made the finals and semi-finals of the football competition in recent years.

Councillor Paul O’Kane, East Renfrewshire’s education and equalities convener, is full of praise for the work done by Mr Docherty at St Ninian’s High.

He said: “This is fantastic recognition for John, who has been dedicated to his profession for more than four decades.”