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The High School Low Down with...Mr Totten

The High School Low Down with...Mr Totten

Mr Callum Totten has taught Modern Studies at the High School since January 2019. He’s no stranger to the School, as Mr Totten is a Former Pupil!

As well as teaching pupils about the many intricacies of politics in Scotland, the UK and across the globe, Mr Totten has taken the reigns of co-organising the annual Raasay residential trip for First Years!


Give us the low down: what was your path to the High School?

My 'path' has gone in something approaching a full circle, having been a pupil at the High School for 13 years, starting in Kindergarten at the Junior School, leaving Sixth Year in the summer of 2008.

After school, I studied History and Politics at Durham and Political Philosophy at University College London, before pursuing a career in politics in London for 5 years.

In 2015, I retrained as a Modern Studies teacher and moved back to Scotland, working at Rosshall Academy, Craigholme School and, since 2019, the High School!

When did you know teaching was your calling?

There was no single moment of revelation for me, but I found myself growing increasingly frustrated with a regular 9-to-5 office job and looking for a career that would offer me more variety and challenge in my working day. Teaching was an obvious choice as I get to talk about subjects that fascinate me and work with young people - both great privileges!

Tell us your biggest highlight at the High School so far?

As a teacher I always insist that when pupils do well it's down to their own efforts, but moments where I've felt most proud were pupils who exceeded their own expectations or who were able to pursue their aspirations thanks to their success in my classes. It's great to feel like you have helped someone achieve their potential.

I also won the staff Mile Cup (a mile long running race) which was a pretty good day!

Describe yourself in 3 words.

Runner, cyclist and politics geek (in that order of importance).

If you could take one movie or song to a desert island, what would it be?

Baz Luhrmann: 'Everyone's Free To Wear Sunscreen'. It's full of excellent advice, plus sunscreen is probably a good idea on a desert island...

Who or what inspires you most?


What’s one thing you hope to never forget?

My mobile phone. I would be lost without it.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to someone?

Socrates said 'The unexamined life is not worth living' and this is what I tell pupils who groan about tests (although I'm not sure it's very helpful advice or a particularly good interpretation of Socrates' meaning...)

And finally, give us your low down of the High School

The High School is a place to find your passion and achieve your full potential in whatever field you choose.