Work began today (Thursday) at Dingwall on The Highland Council’s second Education Public Private Partnership, which will see 11 new urban and rural community schools built across the Highlands at a cost of £134 million.
The Highland Council Convener Alison Magee was joined by Dingwall Academy first year pupils, Megan Haslam and Eoin Martin, in cutting the first turfs on the site of the £21 million replacement school. Also present were school captains, Graeme Miller and Elspeth Harrison.
The new school will include: -
- a range of up to date classrooms, fully serviced with computer points etc for both general and specialist teaching;
- a games hall, gymnasium, fitness room, floodlit all weather pitch, three new grass pitches and running track;
- a public library, learning centre for school and community use including access to a crèche, video conferencing facilities, Peoples’ Network
- a full scale performance venue with bleacher seating for 350.
Work on the school building is due to be completed by May 2008, with the playing fields ready by September 30, 2009.
Councillor Magee said: "This is the most significant investment this Council has or is likely to make and demonstrates our commitment to Highland communities. The new schools will not only benefit our staff and pupils but the wider community through the excellent community facilities, such as the public library, performance area and four sports pitches."
Councillor Andy Anderson, Chairman of the Education Culture and Sport Committee, said: "Dingwall Academy is one of our biggest secondary schools and pupils deserve to receive their education in surroundings that match the quality of the teaching provided by our staff."
Graham Mackenzie, rector of the 1,050-pupil school, welcomed guests to the turf cutting ceremony. He said: "This is a memorable day for Dingwall Academy and the wider community, who will benefit greatly from what promises to be an excellent community facility. My sincere thanks go to the Council for its commitment to this area and for ensuring this project has come to fruition."
The 11 schools are being built by Alpha Schools (Highland) Ltd, a consortium of Morrison PLC and Noble Fund Managers.
Paul Bottrill, Director of Alpha Schools, said: "We’re great advocates of the collaborative and long-term nature of PPP projects which we believe brings significant mutual benefits. We look forward to working alongside The Highland Council to completion of the schools and their ongoing maintenance."
Donald McLachlan, Operations Director of Morrison Construction, said: "We’re delighted to have been chosen as preferred contractor. Since the initial enquiry we have worked very closely with Alpha Schools in a process that has been all about team work and co-operation. We look to continuing this spirit of partnership through the next phase of this project. I’m confident that with our experienced and dedicated site management team we will deliver what we do best - that is building quality facilities."
The other schools being built in the second PPP programme are: -
Cawdor Primary; Culbokie Primary; Drummond School, Inverness; a new Gaelic Medium Primary, Inverness; a new primary school to serve Inshes, Inverness; Resolis Primary School; Kinlochleven High and Primary; Millburn Academy, Inverness; and Portree High.
In the first Education PPP project, new primary schools were built at Spean Bridge and Strathdearn (Tomatin) and new secondary schools at Ardnamurchan (Strontian) and Glen Urquhart (Drumnadrochit).