PUPILS and staff at one of the Capital’s top performing secondaries are celebrating after a new teaching block was opened at their school.
The ribbon has been cut on the Malala Building at James Gillespie’s High as part of a £42.8 million redevelopment.
We revealed last month how pupils had decided to name the teaching block in honour of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, now 17. She survived being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in Pakistan in 2012. She was targeted because of her work promoting girls’ education.
Staff and pupils said they were “hugely impressed” with the new facility, which houses the main teaching area and features 57 classroom spaces with full-height glazing to maximise daylight and views.
Headteacher Donald Macdonald said: “It’s a wonderful facility – the design and layout is like no other school.
“There’s a real feeling of light and space with one side of every classroom glazed to allow in lots of natural light and giving views across Edinburgh.
“In fact the building’s been so well received that, despite being on exam leave, many senior pupils chose to come into the new building to study rather than stay at home.”
The opening is part of a rebuild which has already seen the construction of a nursery, two classrooms and a gym at James Gillespie’s Primary.
A synthetic pitch at Thirlestane Road has also been provided for use by secondary pupils.
The final phase will see the demolition of all remaining high school buildings to allow the delivery of new sports and performance blocks.
In addition, the A-listed Bruntsfield House at the centre of the campus is undergoing refurbishment.
Councillor Paul Godzik, the city’s education leader, who joined learning minister Dr Alasdair Allan to open the new block yesterday, said: “I know the staff and pupils are excited to be in the new teaching block which is really impressive.
“This is a modern, fit-for-purpose facility which is unique in Scotland with its courtyards and collaborative break-out areas and will deliver an unrivalled learning environment for pupils.
“Work is already under way on the sports and performing arts buildings which will be finished next year and give the James Gillespie’s community a school they can rightly be proud of for many years to come.”
Dr Allan said: “This is an exciting day for pupils and staff at James Gillespie’s High School and I was delighted to be at the official opening of the new Malala Building.
“The Scottish Government is committed to providing modern and sustainable new schools through our Schools for the Future programme and I’m pleased we could provide more than £20m towards the cost of this project.”
He added: “The design of the new school provides modern and inspiring spaces for pupils to learn in.”
Malala was awarded the Nobel prize last year.