Plaques unveiled at Caol Joint Campus official opening

Caol Campus
Bishop McGee unveils the Caol and St Columba's Primaries plaque with Duncan Shearer.

More photos of tour and official opening.

The official opening of Highland Council’s Caol Joint Campus comprising Caol Primary School, St. Columba’s Primary School and Caol Community Centre took place this morning Friday 23 June 2017.

Senior pupils gave invited guests tours of the two schools following which an opening ceremony took place in the school hall with all pupils, staff, and guests in attendance. Norma Young, Highland Council’s Care and Learning Manager (West) welcomed everyone to the ceremony. Pupils gave a beautiful performance singing “One More Step”; and Cllr Ben Thompson and Jim Steven, Head of Education addressed the attendees.

Bishop Brian McGee, Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, and Duncan Shearer, Former Pupil of Caol Primary School and former Professional Footballer unveiled a commemorative opening plaque after both gave inspiring speeches to the pupils and guests.

Bishop McGee said: “I wish to congratulate the staff and pupils of St. Columba’s RC Primary School on their new Joint School Campus. This is not the first St. Columba’s Primary School in Lochaber – the original St. Columba’s Primary was opened at Lochyside in 1964, and so it is very fitting that the new school has the same name. St. Columba was well known as a missionary in Scotland, a man of great faith and learning. Education was very important to him, and the monastery at Iona became a great light for the people of Scotland and Europe. My wish is that St. Columba’s Primary School in Caol will continue to be a strong community of faith and learning where all children and staff can live their lives to the full and bring light to the wider community. I am delighted that St. Columba’s Primary School is part of the new Joint Campus, and I wish every success and happiness for the future to the staff and pupils at both St. Columba’s Primary School and Caol Primary School.”

Duncan Shearer, former pupil of Caol Primary School said: “It is a great honour to come back and participate in the official opening of this new school, considering it played a big part in my life in becoming a professional footballer. I was born less than 100 yards from the school and consider it a privilege to be asked to open Caol Primary School.”
The Caol Joint Campus opened its doors to pupils on Thursday 29 September 2016.

The current pupil roll at St Columba’s Roman Catholic Primary School is 100 Primary and 11 Nursery pupils. 

The current pupil roll at Caol Primary School is 234 Primary and 71 Nursery pupils. 

The schools are located in the village of Caol and replace the previous two schools, which enable children to be educated in a facility fit to meet the demands of teaching in the 21st Century. 

Violet Smith, Head Teacher St. Columba’s RC Primary School, said: “The new joint campus provides a very bright, vibrant learning environment for pupils and staff. We are extremely happy with the design of the building, as it offers a new, innovative approach to learning and teaching as well as inspiring spaces for social integration. There is a distinctive, positive ethos across the campus, and St. Columba’s RC Primary School pupils and staff value the opportunity to work closely with the pupils and staff of Caol Primary School.”

Steven Hamilton, Head Teacher Caol Primary School, said: “Everyone is delighted to be working in such a modern, light building with spacious classrooms and break out spaces. We love the fact we have a shared campus with friends and colleagues who are able to work and share together, which is an added bonus. It is the perfect environment to continue delivering a high quality of education to the pupils of Caol.”

Chair of the People Committee, Councillor Alasdair Christie said: “The work involved to create the Campus represents a very significant investment and demonstrates the Council’s commitment to ensuring young people are given the very best learning opportunities in surroundings that match the quality of the teaching provided by our staff. Both schools are very much community schools in the true sense of the word. The development of new technologies is changing the shape of education. There are lots of exciting opportunities for study and more access to information than ever before. I wish all the current pupils and the thousands of young people who will be educated here in the future, many happy years enjoying educational, leisure and cultural opportunities in these splendid surroundings.”

The unveiling ceremony was opened and closed to the sound of bagpipes from Moira Robertson. 

Chair of Lochaber Committee, Cllr Andrew Baxter said: "This is the culmination of a major investment programme for new schools in the Fort William area. Schools are often the focal point for a local community. With two primary schools, a library and community facilities all on one site the Caol Campus is already proving to be the focal point for this community. It's fantastic to hear how it is already being so well used by everyone in the local area."

Sean O’Callaghan, Area Operations Director for Kier Construction Scotland said: “Kier has a strong track record of delivering quality schools throughout Scotland and Caol Campus offers a fantastic facility to nursery and primary students and the wider community - all powered by an energy centre which provides sustainable and efficient heating. Throughout the build, we have worked with local suppliers and SMEs to ensure that the project boosts the local economy of Fort William - creating 6 apprenticeships, 2 work placements and 2 graduated traineeships. This has given local young people valuable experience working on a state-of-the-art building and a unique insight into the diverse range of roles available in this thriving industry.”

A plaque unveiling also took place in the new Caol Community Centre with invited guests in attendance.

Donnie Corbett, Chair of Caol Regeneration Company who opened the Community Centre, said: “The new Caol Community Centre brings together several different organisations under one roof. High Life Highland operates the Youth Centre and Youth Café, and their Gallery Meeting Rooms and General Purpose Rooms are used regularly for workshops, training and events. Room 13 International areas include a Staff Office and 2 purpose built Art Studios. During term time the Room 13 Pupil Studio is run by the school pupils in the adjacent St. Columba RC and Caol PS, and is open to local pupils across the wider Lochaber area. Caol Regeneration Company Ltd. occupies the remaining space, which include event halls, bar and kitchen, and private office space. Lochaber Action and Disability host their weekday lunch club from the facility, and there are regular scheduled events and classes open to the local community.”

23 Jun 2017
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