New Portobello High finally opens to students

A fFirst look at the new Portobello High School, Rory Martin, Lewis Hamilton, Beth Ballantine and Lucie Currie Library. Picture: Ian Georgeson
A fFirst look at the new Portobello High School, Rory Martin, Lewis Hamilton, Beth Ballantine and Lucie Currie Library. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Eight years, over 2,800 days and almost 70,000 hours; whatever way you look at it, the new Portobello High School has been a long time coming.

Yesterday, the doors on the new school finally opened to pupils for the first time since funding was secured in December 2008, after a protracted planning dispute over use of the site at Portobello Park held back construction for six years.

City leaders were eventually forced to launch a bill at the Scottish Parliament to ensure the £41 million project to replace its 1960s predecessor went ahead.

Pupils were welcomed to the state-of-the-art campus after an extended half-term break yesterday and were full of praise for their new surroundings.

Third-year student Lewis Hamilton, 14, said he was “hugely excited to use the sports facilities,” while fifth-year pupils Lucy Currie and Beth Ballantine said they were surprised about the bright and airy feel that had been created by the construction.

“Waking up this morning, I genuinely couldn’t wait to get here; it’s so refreshing to get here and for it to be clean and bright, it really does make you want to learn,” said Lucy, 15.

“There’s so much space, it’s less enclosed and the place is just so much brighter,” added Beth, 16.

“I think everyone was surprised by how open it is, it’s so different from the way the old school looked.”

Sixth-year student Rory Martin, 17, admitted he thought he’d never get a chance to attend the new school, but said he was delighted to finally have the opportunity.

“I was meant to have my whole school life in this building and it didn’t happen,” he said.

“By about fourth year I’d pretty much given up hope I’d see it, so it’s amazing to actually be here.”

In addition to the improved facilities, students will be the first in the city to benefit from biometric technology, allowing them to pay for snacks using only a fingerprint.

Headteacher Ruth McKay revealed she was “honoured” to be the first head in the new school, saying she hoped the building will “excite and inspire students.”

She added: “I think the students are happier here because they feel valued.”

“It’s noticeable at the moment that learners and staff are walking taller, there’s a spring in their step because it feels special to come in to a building like this.

“The effect on the local community is going to be felt too, this isn’t an exclusive project, it’s for the benefit of the people around Portobello who can hopefully embrace and make use of this fantastic facility.”