New Portobello High School slated for October opening

Portobello High School is now due to open in October. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Portobello High School is now due to open in October. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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Portobello High School’s new campus will be completed in October – three months earlier than expected.

The £41 million complex was originally due to open in the summer, before being pushed back to January next year amid problems with water drainage.

Construction work continues at the school. Picture: Toby Williams

Construction work continues at the school. Picture: Toby Williams

Now bosses say the long-awaited facility will open three months early after contractors Balfour Beatty and Scottish Water resolved the issues.

The announcement comes as the Evening News was given an extensive tour of the site alongside staff, pupils and councillors, showcasing the cutting-edge features soon to be on offer.

And while construction is still very much ongoing, it’s already clear the campus – which boasts a swimming pool, two all-weather pitches and space for around 1400 pupils – will be one of a kind.

Highlights include an outdoor “art terrace” on the second floor, allowing pupils to sit outside and paint in the summer, as well as an 80in Apple TV in every classroom.

It’s all a far cry from the current 1960s building on Duddingston Road – and youngsters insist they can’t wait to move in.

Fifth-year pupil Paul Graham, 16, said: “It’s brilliant. It just looks so much better than the building we are in just now. There’s a lot more space to move about in, and the facilities for PE look a lot better.”

Bosses say the surrounding community will also benefit, with residents able to book the sports pitches free of charge.

In addition, a new £1m park will be created in place of the old Portobello High School and St John’s RC Primary School site.

Construction of the secondary – Edinburgh’s largest – was previously delayed for six years because of a long-running row over whether it should be built in Portobello Park.

Council leaders were eventually forced to lodge a Bill at the Scottish Parliament to ensure the project could proceed.

It will open to staff and pupils on October 26, after the mid-term break. Headteacher Ruth McKay said the long-awaited move represented an “extraordinary opportunity for the school community”.

She added: “It really is a building like no other school building I have ever seen. Although it’s a big building, it doesn’t feel impersonal. The technology in the classrooms is second-to-none.”

Councillor Paul Godzik, the city’s education leader, said: “I am sure that parents, pupils and staff will be as delighted as I am that we have brought forward the date of the school opening to October.

“Thanks must go to the council’s project team, Balfour Beatty and Scottish Water for working so closely over the past few months to solve the drainage issues and accelerate the school opening.

“The new Portobello High School is looking really impressive and it’s clear this is going to be a fantastic state-of-the-art facility. Rebuilding Portobello High School is one of the Capital Coalition’s highest priorities and we were determined to ensure we met this commitment.”

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