Erskine Stewart’s Melville to revamp classrooms

10.09.10 Erskine Stewart's Melville Schools. Picture: Neil Hanna
10.09.10 Erskine Stewart's Melville Schools. Picture: Neil Hanna
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ONE of the Capital’s top private schools has unveiled ten-year plans for a transformation of its junior campus.

Erskine Stewart’s Melville Schools (ESMS) have embarked on a radical overhaul of classrooms for around 600 youngsters in primaries 4-7 to provide new teaching blocks and bespoke facilities in specialist subjects such as science and PE. Leaders at the institution, which charges fees of up to £19,000-a-year, say they want to create an education environment “fit for the 21st century”.

Among the planned projects – set to be phased over the next seven to ten years and dependent on future funding – are demolition of a number of now empty classrooms and the construction of two entirely new teaching blocks.

David Gray, ESMS principal, said: “It’s a major redevelopment for us but the junior school has grown exponentially over the last 20 years and we now have 1200 junior school children. The new developments will create something exclusive for them.”

The landmark revamp of the historic school is well under way, with a number of P4-5 pupils already decanted so ageing buildings can be completely knocked down ahead of the construction of a brand new teaching block. There will be other major additions to the school site, including a pedestrian entrance, courtyard spaces and a music extension.

“Some of these things the junior school doesn’t have,” said Mr Gray. “It shares some specialist facilities with the senior school.

“There are a number of phases to this which we will undertake as funds allow. We are keen to redevelop the junior school to provide facilities fit for the wide range of educational activities our pupils are involved in.”

The plans, which are subject to consultation, have been welcomed by local political leaders.

Councillor Iain Whyte, Conservative member for Inverleith, said: “Anything they do to improve their facilities is generally helpful. It’s obviously helpful for jobs, there’s the construction, and then there are the educational benefits. And these benefits are wider than Inverleith – they are potentially throughout the city as well.”