On Saturday (12 May) pupils who will be attending the new £6.6 million primary school at Inshes for the start of the new school term in August, were invited, along with their parents, to a special open day to look around their brand new school.
The school, which is the first for a generation to be built in the Highlands to accommodate a new community, incorporates a new public library and a separate meeting room for community use. The library will also open in August and be the first public library in the Highlands to be attached to a primary school.
The Highland Council’s Director of Education, Culture and Sport, Hugh Fraser said: “We are delighted that this vibrant growing community is going to have its own school which will be very much the hub. Foremost in our minds in the planning stages was to also incorporate community facilities such as the library, nursery and sports hall and pitch which is an added bonus. Through this investment local residents will be able to enjoy and benefit from the best possible learning and recreation facilities.”
School facilities include ten bright and airy classrooms, a multi-sports hall with a built-in seating system, a computer suite, two nursery rooms with an enclosed safe play area, a medical room and specialist facilities for pupils with additional support needs. Outside there is parking, a cycle compound and a bus drop-off zone as well as a full-size football pitch which will be available for hire by the community from the end of September.
250 pupils drawn mainly from Drakies, Cradlehall and Hilton Primary Schools along with around 100 nursery children are due to start in August.
Head teacher Mrs Gilroy was very pleased that so many pupils and their parents had taken the opportunity to come along to the open day. She said: “We wanted to give pupils and their parents the chance to come and see their wonderful new school and to meet those staff involved in the projet. Everyone who I have spoken to is very impressed and excitedly looking forward to the first day of term.”
Chairman of the Interim Parents Council, Helen Hunter said: “Families in this growing community are excited by the opening of this new school. It’s a fantastic opportunity for our young people to be educated in a 21st Century learning environment which will cater for the needs of all learners. Inshes Primary School will very quickly become a focal point for our communit6y and provide a venue where people can get to know one another.”
The school was built by Alpha Schools (Highland) Ltd, a consortium of Morrison PLC and Noble Fund Managers and is one of 11 new schools being built as part of The Highland Council’s second education PPP scheme which is valued at £134 million.
David Gay, Concession Director for Alpha Schools (Highland) Ltd, said: "The designers, the client and our contractor, Morrison Construction, deserve an enormous credit for resolving the construction challenges presented by this major, multi-million pound PPP project and achieving this key milestone today at Inshes Primary School.
"The brand new school will bring real benefits to the pupils, staff and wider community - good news for the thousands who will use the modern facilities over its lifetime."
Under the PPP process, Morrison Facilities Services now provides the two schools with a range of facilities management services which runs for 30 years and includes building maintenance and security, cleaning and grounds maintenance and helpdesk support.
Derek Chambers, Morrison Construction’s Project Director for the Highland Schools Project, said: “This is a particularly rewarding project as the resulting facility, delivered on time and to budget, represent a significant boost to the fabric of this growing Inverness community.
“The new state-of-the-art school which is spacious, bright and fully equipped will radically enhance the teaching and learning environment for the pupils and staff.
“As the largest employer in the construction sector in the Highlands, we are very pleased, indeed, to have played a part in their development.”
On Thursday (17 May) there will be a second open day to which the wider community is invited.