A special groundbreaking event was held today (Thursday 19 January) to mark the start of construction work on the new Currie Community High School.
Shirley-Anne Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills at the Scottish Government was joined on site by Councillor Joan Griffiths, Education, Children and Families Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council and Head Teacher Jenny Hutchison.
The new Currie Community High School, which will be one of the most energy efficient high schools in Scotland, is expected to open in 2025 and is being built by partners Kier Construction.
The campus will be one of the first Passivhaus-designed high schools in the country setting the standard for energy consumption across school estates. Passivhaus is a rigorous energy standard which reduces the amount of energy needed for heating by up to 90%. It also lowers the total amount of energy used by around 70% and minimises carbon emissions. The new school will support Edinburgh’s aim of net zero emissions by 2030.
At the heart of the new school plans are five core elements: education, inclusion, outdoor learning and sustainability, digital learning and community access. The school will have a series of learning zones for pupils with breakout areas which include:
- Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) over three levels with dual-teaching classrooms, science labs, technician areas and a learning plaza
- Languages and Humanities with dual-teaching classrooms, learning plaza and a debating chamber
- Expressive Arts with music rooms, a recording studio, art studios including a kiln room, dance studios, drama studio and stage
- Health and Wellbeing with a gym hall, games hall, fitness suite and swimming pool, food technology and hospitality
- Integrated Support with wellbeing hub, support for learning classroom, a sensory room and a sensory garden
There is a strong emphasis on outdoor learning with the creation of a special terrace on the second floor providing all of the learning zones with immediate access to external teaching spaces. This focus will shape the curriculum on offer and ensure these outdoor spaces promote sustainability and link lifelong learning to the surrounding grounds of the school and community.
Health and wellbeing also feature prominently in the designs with the creation of a dedicated wellbeing hub and separate wellness centre to support pupils. The hub will be based in the integrated support zone and is a dedicated room in a quiet location which can be used as part of a planned alternative/flexible timetable to help young people learn in a variety of settings. The wellness centre will be in the community and sports side of the building and will provide a space for counselling and activities to support improved mental health.
The new building will offer the community daytime, evening and weekend access to an intergenerational community hub. Visitors can drop in to the library space in the foyer, access meeting rooms and digital services, visit the café, keep healthy at the gym and pool or enjoy a walk around the grounds. There will also be public allotments.
Councillor Joan Griffiths said:
These are exciting times for the Currie school community as there are so many innovative elements to the plans which have energy efficiency at their centre. This will make the new campus one of the first high schools in Scotland to meet Passivhaus standards and supports Edinburgh’s aim of net zero emissions by 2030.
The new school will provide a first-class learning setting and be an exciting, inspirational and creative hub for the whole community which will meet both future educational and environmental needs. I’m delighted to see such a strong emphasis on outdoor learning with the creation of a special terrace and how the outdoor spaces will promote sustainability for the school and local community.
Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:
This new school will provide an inspiring learning environment for around 1,000 pupils and will benefit generations to come. It has been a privilege for me to break the ground here today on this fantastic addition to the area and to hear what a difference this completed project will make to pupils and the wider community.
The project will be completed using support from the first phase of the £2 billion Learning Estate Investment Programme (LEIP), which is managed by the Scottish Futures Trust and will benefit tens of thousands of pupils across Scotland.
Jenny Hutchison, Currie Community High School Head Teacher, said:
It was great to be at the event this morning as everyone can now see the construction taking place on the site of the new school. We’re so incredibly excited about what our new school has to offer as a learning and community campus with an amazing energy around curriculum development and how we ensure that young people develop the skills to be 21st century ready.
As one of the first Passivhaus schools in Scotland, we are committed to energy efficiency for the benefits of our young people and community. The opportunities for intergenerational learning are endless with transformational learning spaces both inside the building and out.
Phil McDowell, Regional Director for Kier Construction North & Scotland, said:
This really is a unique project, which not only creates an outstanding new school, but its vast range of facilities will bring important socio-economic benefits to the local area. Everything about the new school has been designed with the focus of minimising energy usage and creating a healthy environment for generations to come.
We’re proud to continue our successful relationship with the City of Edinburgh Council to deliver this fantastic new facility for the community of Currie.
The new school will deliver more proactive services closer to people across the city, which is a key part of our 20-minute neighbourhood strategy. We want everyone to live well locally and be able to meet most of their daily needs from within their own community by walking, cycling, wheeling or taking public transport.
This means working with our local partners and communities to better plan and deliver services that meet everyone’s needs.
Local community hubs will bring daily services together for everyone to help create more social, inclusive and accessible communities that are connected by safe active travel routes. These will help to support the wellbeing of all citizens and end poverty and isolation in Edinburgh.