Portobello High School tower block demolition begins

Demolition gets under way. Pic: JON SAVAGE

Demolition gets under way. Pic: JON SAVAGE

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DEMOLITION on the final section of the old Portobello High School has got under way in preparation for the arrival of a new park and primary school.

The school’s former tower block is now the sole structure left standing at its former Duddingston Road site and will now be torn down over the upcoming three-week period.

Work will then begin on the new St John Primary School, which will link up with a new £1 million green space featuring expansive lawns, climbing frames and an outdoor classroom.

The new school has been earmarked to open in August 2018 and it is hoped additional space will allow staff to cater for more pupils.

Barbara Service, who has headed up St John’s for 12 years, said the new school had been a long time coming and that everyone was “enormously excited” for the future.

She said: “We are very much looking forward to having a new school, it will have enormous benefits for pupils, staff, parents and the community.

“It’s very exciting and it’s been amazing watching the demolition of the other buildings on the Portobello High School site – the children have been fascinated by the process.

“It’s exciting times ahead because we are going to have everything that we need in a purpose-built school.

“There will be more space, the building will be lighter [and] we’ll be able to integrate our nursery and P7 pupils into the main school building.”

Classes at St John’s are currently capped at 30 pupils in P3-7 due to limited space but said the new building will allow this to increase to 33.

Ms Service said the school’s current lack of kitchen facilities would also be remedied, a situation which currently requires meals to be brought in on a daily basis from West Lothian.

She added: “There’s a great fondness for this old building.

“We do the very best we can with the constraints of the size of the building but to be able to move on to something that’s purpose built will be fantastic.”

The new school will be built on part of the existing Portobello High site and will be able to accommodate 462 pupils across 14 classes. Construction will begin in May and is due to finish in June next year.

Education leader Cammy Day said the work heralded an exciting step forward for the primary school’s pupils.

He said: “The old school’s tower block has been an iconic landmark in the Portobello area for many years but the start of the demolition continues our educational regeneration of the area.

“The fantastic new Portobello High School opened a few months ago and the St John’s school community are really excited to be getting a state-of-the-art school on this site next year.

“Our continued investment in new schools demonstrates the commitment of this council to providing the best educational environment for our young learners to thrive in.”

The demolition also paves the way for work to begin on the new Treverlen Park, which will boast boulder structures, stepping stones, new net and timber play equipment, timber frames for net building and a concrete-free play area..

This will be in addition to a footpath connecting the green space to a planned 3G pitch beside St John’s Primary.

florence.snead@jpress.co.uk