Scotland’s first minister and minister for learning have officially opened two landmark secondary schools that were built under a joint council pilot and feature community assets for the wider public.
The £36.8 million Lasswade Centre in Midlothian and Eastwood High in East Renfrewshire, which cost £29 million, are the country’s first secondaries to open through the Schools for the Future building programme. The £1.25 billion scheme is due to bring 67 new primary and secondary schools across Scotland by March 2018.
From the outside the two schools look completely different but inside they are almost identical.
Lasswade High, previously rated as one of the secondary school buildings in the worst condition in Scotland, is now based in a hub that includes a swimming pool, library and sports facilities that are all open to the public. The school accommodates almost 1,500 pupils.
First minister Alex Salmond said: “Lasswade High pupils are developing their skills and talents in a wonderful environment, including bright, airy classrooms and social spaces and with excellent, fully equipped sports facilities.
“This was made possible after years in which the local community suffered from one of the most dilapidated secondary school buildings in Scotland – until the Scottish government stepped in with Midlothian council to provide a new source of funding for a new school.”
The government paid £21.3 million for the school premises via the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), with Midlothian funding the remainder for the community hub facilities.
Bob Constable, Midlothian council leader, said the public had warmly welcomed the new facilities: “For me, the real jewel in the crown is the gymnastics club, which serves as an elite performance academy, only one of three such facilities in Scotland.”
Meanwhile, Alasdair Allan, the minister for learning, attended the opening of the new Eastwood High in Newton Mearns, which follows a similar layout. The government contributed £17.4 million and East Renfrewshire the rest.
The joint procurement pilot has reportedly resulted in savings of about £4 million, according to the SFT, and 20 other local authorities in Scotland are now considering such schemes.
“The new sports centre and two all-weather pitches will benefit not just the pupils but the entire community, and like Lasswade, the school forms a key part of Scotland’s Schools for the Future,” Mr Allan said.
East Renfrewshire’s education convener, Elaine Green, said the project had been such a success that the council was using the same model for another school, Barrhead High. CAPTION: New-look: The £36.8m Lasswade Centre will house 1,500 pupils