New £42m Gillespie’s High School gets the go-ahead

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A NEW school has been given the green light as part of a £42 million campus project –despite householders’ concerns about the “brutal” impact of the new buildings.

The new James Gillespie’s High School in Edinburgh, due to open in 2015, will be the first school to be built around the principles of Scotland’s new education curriculum.

It will feature open spaces to encourage collaborative working between different classes and specially-designed “learning gardens”.

However, earlier this month the Evening News reported how neighbours of the high school had launched a petition against the impact of the new buildings, with the main objections focusing on the “over- dominance” of a new pool and sports building at the school’s Lauderdale Street campus.

Residents in the neighbouring Thirlestane Road and Spottiswoode Road fear it will intrude on their privacy, while noise and artificial lighting will also have a negative impact.

The city council said the school, which will be built on the site of the present James Gillespie’s High, had been designed to complement the Curriculum for Excellence. The school, which is being part-funded by the Scottish Government, is part of a larger campus development which is expected to include an extension to a nursery and improvements to James Gillespie’s Primary.

The school will include a number of open spaces where pupils studying different subjects will be able to take part in cross-curriculum learning.

There will also be covered “learning gardens”, as well as “collaborative research spaces”, presentation areas and an “innovation hub” for teachers and pupils to collaborate.

Headteacher Donald MacDonald said: “I am looking forward to leading our school community through this rebuilding programme and, in a few years, taking ownership of what will be a first-class educational facility that is ideally suited to achieving the aspirations of a Curriculum for Excellence.”

City education leader Councillor Marilyne MacLaren added: “I am absolutely thrilled that this exciting project has finally been given the planning go-ahead.

“The new high school will provide a modern and inspiring environment, with a number of pioneering design features that I think will lead the way for contemporary school buildings throughout Scotland. We progressively developed the plans based on feedback we received from the community to make sure that the new school reflects the positive characteristics of the surrounding area.”