Work starts on new campus for Inverness Royal Academy.

Inverness Royal Academy turf cutting
Inverness Royal Academy turf cutting

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Turfs were cut today (Tuesday 12 August 201) in Inverness to mark the start of construction on a new £34 million Inverness Royal Academy campus for The Highland Council’s modern schools building programme.

The new school will replace the existing Inverness Royal Academy school buildings with a new building that will provide a modern learning environment capable of meeting the needs of current and future pupils, as well as offering greater provision for community use during the evenings and weekends.

The new school will have a larger pupil capacity (1420 pupils) than the current school (1153 pupils) in order to accommodate housing growth within the catchment area and increased uptake in Gaelic Medium education in the medium to long term.

Highland Councillors were joined by Council officials, and key representatives from Hub North Scotland at the site which is west of Culduthel Road, Inverness.

Councillor Alasdair Christie, Chair of the Council’s Education, Children and Adult Services Committee and member of Inverness Ness-side Ward said: “I am delighted to be part of this momentous occasion as we mark this key step in delivering modern educational establishments for Inverness.  This is a major milestone in our work with the Scottish Government to develop Highland Council’s programme of modern school provision in the Highlands.

“The new school build at Inverness Royal Academy is a huge investment and major boost to the local community and economy. It will also provide major support for the further development of Gaelic Education and improved provision for pupils with Additional Support Needs.”

Minister for Learning Alasdair Allan said: “The Scottish Government is committed to delivering good quality, well designed, sustainable schools through the Schools for the Future programme. I’m delighted we could contribute £18 million pounds to the construction of the new Inverness Royal Academy and I’m confident it will provide an excellent learning environment for pupils and be enjoyed by generations to come. The new school and its facilities will be a fantastic addition to the local community and I look forward to seeing it when it is completed in 2016.”

The school will have 39 practical, 40 non-practical and 5 tutorial classrooms, and in addition 6 classrooms have been provided in order to accommodate the range of subjects which would be taught in Gaelic.

In terms of accommodation that can be used by the community, an additional games hall will be provided (2 halls in total), plus a fitness suite, dance studio, gymnasium and two synthetic turf pitches. The pitches will be built on the site of the existing Inverness Royal Academy site.

Additional Support Needs (ASN) accommodation will be expanded (more than doubled) in order to improve the educational experience for ASN pupils, providing a calm and positive learning environment as well as full access to the rest of the school.

The new school’s main central teaching, social and administration block will be bounded by sports facilities, and the expanded Additional Support Needs and Autism Spectrum Disorder department.  The development will also include an energy centre/bin storage building, new outdoor learning facilities, a wetlands habitat, trim track, sensory and growing gardens, and improvements to the public areas. The new school is expected to be opened in May 2016.

Gemma Boggs, Schools programme director at SFT, explained: “I am delighted that Inverness Royal Academy has reached such a significant milestone. Importantly, SFT's work across the NPD programme means that pupils, teachers and the community alike will reap the benefits of first-class education facilities sooner, as the NPD programme allows construction to start earlier rather than waiting for traditional capital funding to become available. Work starting on the Academy will be welcome news to many local SMEs in the building industry. The project will provide a massive boost to the number of work-placements, apprenticeships and training opportunities that will be created through the delivery partner, hub North Scotland Ltd.”

Hub North Scotland is the driving force behind the planning, procurement and delivery of community-based infrastructure projects across the north of Scotland. The new Inverness Royal Academy is the latest project in the north-east to be delivered using the hub model, in which hub North Scotland has been appointed by The Highland Council as development partner and will lead the project.

Angus Macfarlane, chief executive of hub North Scotland, said: “Today marks a significant milestone for the eagerly awaited Inverness Royal Academy campus, not just for the staff and pupils, but also for the city and the surrounding areas it will serve.

“A commitment to partnership working really is at the heart of the hub model and we’re looking forward to continuing to work with The Highland Council, and those who will use the facility as the project’s momentum increases in the months ahead.

“We truly believe that, on completion, the first-class facility will bring major benefits to the wider Inverness community.”

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12 Aug 2014
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