New James Gillespie's High School officially opened
The new James Gillespie’s High School was officially opened at a special ceremony by Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills John Swinney today (Wednesday 26 October).
He was joined by Councillor Paul Godzik, Education Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, Vice Convener Cllr Cathy Fullerton, Head Teacher Donald J Macdonald and Paul McGirk, Chief Executive of Hub South East Scotland, the Council's development partner.
Special guest of honour was Sue Caton, niece of Olympic athlete Eric Liddell, with the new sports building being named after the famous Scottish sporting hero. The new performance block has been named the Spark building after novelist and former pupil Muriel Spark.
The high school rebuild was part of the £42.8m James Gillespie’s Campus Project, one of the most unique in Scotland, which began in 2012. New buildings were constructed across all aspects of the campus which serves pupils aged from 3 to 18 years in nursery, primary and high schools all on the same site.
The final phase of works was completed in August this year with the opening of the new sports and performance buildings. In addition, the A-listed Bruntsfield House at the centre of the campus also underwent a major refurbishment.
The first phase, opened in August 2013, saw the completion of the new nursery; two new classrooms and a gym at James Gillespie’s Primary School and the delivery of a new synthetic pitch at Thirlestane Road for the high school.
The second phase, the construction of the Malala Building which is the main teaching block for the high school, was completed in April 2015 and consists of 57 classroom spaces with full-height glazing to maximise daylight and views; four collaboration spaces along the central spine to the building linked by external courtyards and bespoke dining and social spaces which can also be used for learning and teaching.
The high school replacement project has received significant Scottish Government funding through the ‘Scotland’s Schools for the Future’ programme which is managed by the Scottish Futures Trust. The project is being delivered by Hub South East Scotland with Morrison Construction being the contractors.
Cllr Paul Godzik said: “This has been a unique education construction project in Scotland with new buildings across the nursery, primary and secondary schools. I know pupils, parents and staff are delighted with the facilities.
“This is a modern, fit-for-purpose educational site which is delivering an unrivalled learning environment for pupils of all ages. The completion of this project gives the James Gillespie’s school community a campus they can rightly be proud of and it will serve the community for many years to come.
“Today’s official opening of the school demonstrates the Council’s commitment to delivering first class educational facilities and is followed tomorrow by Portobello High School pupils starting at their brand new school.”
John Swinney, said: “By the end of this parliament the Scottish Government will have invested £1.13bn in the construction or refurbishment of 112 schools across every local authority area, ensuring more than 60,000 children and young people are able to learn in new fit-for-purpose facilities by March 2020.
“Through our Schools for the Future programme we have provided more than £20 million towards the redevelopment of James Gillespie’s High School. I am delighted to be here to officially open the new school today and see the transformational impact projects like this can have on the learning and life chances of pupils.
“Enhancing school infrastructure is an important part of our commitment to closing the attainment gap and strengthening Scotland’s economy.”
Donald J Macdonald said: “Pupils and staff have been hugely impressed with our new school buildings. They are all wonderful facilities and are appreciated by the entire school community. I am really pleased that the pupils and staff views sought in the planning stages were taken on board to develop this magnificent new campus. We now have a school that all are justifiably very proud of’’.
Paul McGirk, Chief Executive, Hub South East Scotland said: “We are delighted to be marking the official opening of the Gillespie’s Campus, Hub South East’s first completed revenue funded project, and one which has already been met with high praise from both staff and pupils.
“This has been a complex phased redevelopment involving new build facilities as well as grade A-listed refurbishment – all on an operational school site. It is testament to the true partnership ethos of the Hub initiative that we have worked together with the Council and our supply chain to manage such complexities and deliver a high quality, modern educational campus – meeting the original scheduled opening of the start of the 2016/17 school year.
“We look forward to continuing this positive working relationship on future projects.”
The main teaching block for the school, the Malala Building, was completed in April 2016 and consists of 57 classroom spaces with full-height glazing to maximise daylight and views; four collaboration spaces along the central spine to the building linked by external courtyards and bespoke dining and social spaces which can also be used for learning and teaching.
Pupils were asked to come up with a new name for the building and they chose to name it after Malala Yousafzai the 17-year-old female education activist from Pakistan.