The Highland village that built its own school

The new Strontian Primary School which was built after the community raised funds for the building. PIC: Contributed.
The new Strontian Primary School which was built after the community raised funds for the building. PIC: Contributed.
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A new school is to open in a Highland village - thanks to the power of its people.

The community of Strontian on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula took matters into its own hands after rejecting a council plan to improve the old 1970s school building.

READ MORE: Five Scottish communities who are doing it for themselves

Highland Council wanted to add to what was already there - but villagers set about building a modern replacement instead.

Now, after four years, the community is getting set to open the £900,000 school which stretches over four wood-clad buildings and contains classrooms bathed in natural light.

READ MORE: Five alternative communities of Scotland

Headteacher Pamela Hill, in an interview with the BBC, described the 1970s building as “dated and sad”.

She said: “There wasn’t much space for us. We really needed a school that was a bit more up-to-date with technology suited for children for the 21st Century as well as somewhere where there is a bit more space for them as well.”

The project was led by Strontian Community School Building Ltd, which is led by local people.

Residents raised £155,000 in community shares which allowed them to pull together funding through land grants and bank loans.

The community company will lease the building back to the council for at least the next 10 years to help pay off the debt.

The school building can be easily be converted into four homes for local people if the classrooms are no longer required in the future.

Primary pupils at Strontian may be housed in the grounds of Ardnamurchan Secondary School at some point in the future.

Councillor Andrew Baxter (Independent), who represents Fort William and Ardnamurchan, said the work of Strontian’s “very talented community” could inspire other areas.

He said: “I think other communities in the Highlands and across the whole of Scotland could be looking at this and saying: ‘Yes, we could do this too’.”