Mouthpiece: School is source of pride

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Since I became education convener in 2007, two issues have kept me awake at night.

One is that of child protection cases and the other is the urgent need to provide new buildings for our ‘wave three’ schools, such as Portobello, James Gillespie’s and Boroughmuir.

So, it was a matter of great personal satisfaction that ground-breaking plans for the new James Gillespie’s High School were finally approved this week.

The plans represent a real shift in the way we think about learning environments, and the way they were created demonstrates the truly innovative nature of this project.

From the very start of the process, teachers and pupils were consulted and they created the initial design brief for architects, who became involved at a later stage.

This is a huge step in the right direction as I strongly believe that the uses of the school building should dictate the design and not be constricted by it.

This is also the first time that the Curriculum for Excellence has influenced the plans for a school project to such a significant extent.

A key theme in the plans is the provision of open, flexible spaces that can be used for cross-curricular learning and greater collaboration between subjects. Rather than focusing the designs of classrooms on one subject, they will be much more flexible and can be used to bring together different activities.

The new James Gillespie’s High School will be a true asset to our young people and the wider community. I think this is something of which everyone involved should be very proud.

• Cllr Marilyne MacLaren is the city’s education convener