THE FIRST TURF has been cut allowing building work on the new Elgin High School to begin on the £30million project that was largely paid for by the Scottish Government.
It had been hoped that work would start on the new school last year – but a series of issues over EU funding regulations caused a six-month delay. It was all smiles however yesterday when pupils, parents, local councillors and teaching staff looked on as the ceremonial first sods were cut by three of the school’s S4 students and three of the area’s primary pupils.
Head Teacher Andy Simpson said: “As a Head Teacher I am conscious that positive relationships and the quality of learning activities are amongst the most important features for the success of a school.
“However, first class modern facilities and resources provide an environment which nurtures and encourages such success. I know I am speaking for all in the Elgin High School in expressing our delight that the prospect of the new building is now becoming a reality.
“Pupils and staff will soon be able to enjoy the quality of accommodation that matches their aspirations and which will remove many of the challenges that have been endured for a number of years.”
Chair of Moray Council’s Children and Young People’s committee, Councillor Anne Skene, welcomed the start of construction, saying: “This is a great day for parents, teachers, pupils and the council, so I’m pleased we can finally get on with the job.”
Local Labour councillor John Divers has argued for many years on behalf of the local High School and recalled that there have been frustrating times for everyone – but these can be put in the past.
He said: “The existing building really had its day a long time ago and it’s a long time ago that I started fighting for a new building. So like everyone I’m glad the day has arrived when we start a new era for the High School. We’re going to have a great new building providing the best start for the children of New Elgin.
The SNP councillor for Elgin City South, Graham Leadbitter, also said it was “an important day for Elgin”, adding: “It is a huge investment in education for Elgin High pupils, which would not have been possible without the massive contribution from the Scottish Government.
“It was great to see young people from the High School and all of its associated primary schools taking part in the turf cutting ceremony. They will have the direct educational benefits when the school is completed next year.
“A tremendous amount of work has been invested already but it is only when the construction starts that it feels ‘real’! I look forward to seeing the new school take shape in the coming months.”
Opposition spokesperson on Education at Moray Council, Mike Shand, added: “As a result of the huge investment by the Scottish Government the Council has also been able to take forward major refurbishment of four other primary schools in Elgin, Forres, Lossiemouth and Buckie.
“In addition the SNP’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently announced still further education investment, including a commitment to fund two thirds of the cost of a replacement Lossiemouth High School.
“I am absolutely delighted with the commitment being shown to education investment by the Scottish Government and I am really looking forward to seeing these new schools in operation.”