Community focus as Deputy First Minister and Lord Lieutenant officially open the new Ayr Academy
Communities have given their seal of approval to the new Ayr Academy. South Ayrshire Council hosted the building's official opening on Monday 2 October, with young people and parents among the 180 guests on the night.
The building was officially opened by John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, and John Duncan, Lord Lord-Lieutenant of Ayrshire and Arran, in what was one of his final public appearances before retiring.
Construction of the £25million school began at Ayr's Craigie Estate in January 2016. With a history dating back to 1233, the last incarnation was built in 1880 and closed earlier this year. Its eye-catching replacement has space for up to 1,000 pupils, and features two learning plazas, a multi-use hall, two gyms, fitness/movement room, and sports pitches.
The project is part of a £94million pipeline of works being delivered across South Ayrshire in the next year, with the aim of enhancing standards through targeted investment. John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, said, "At the outset of our £1.8bn Schools for the Future programme in 2009, we originally aimed to build or refurbish 55 schools across Scotland – we have now more than doubled that commitment and it is fantastic to see so many of these wonderful buildings, like this one here in Ayr, now coming into use. "More widely, since 2007 we have completed 651 school building projects, which is almost double the amount completed over the preceding eight years. "This is part of our aim to provide our children and young people with inspiring environments which enable all of them to engage with their learning and, which in turn, help to raise attainment. It is great to hear the positive reaction of staff and pupils at Ayr Academy to their new school and I wish them all the best for the future."
John Duncan, Lord Lord-Lieutenant of Ayrshire and Arran said, "This magnificent new campus, with its outstanding cutting edge facilities, will hugely facilitate attainment across the board. "It will afford both staff and students immense opportunity as they take the ancient name of Ayr Academy into the future, building on the long legacy that name carries. They will shape its future and it will shape their lives." The school was built by Kier Construction and delivered by South Ayrshire Council in partnership with SWHub. Councillor William Grant, South Ayrshire Council's Portfolio Holder for Lifelong Learning said the event was a unique opportunity to see the building, "This fantastic new building has been warmly welcomed by the community, with many of them invited as special guests to celebrate the start of a new era. "You can see that young people have been energised by their new surroundings, with staff now looking to deliver a step-change in the way lessons are delivered. "The official opening was a great night with a lot of pride on display as pupils performed for the invited guests. And as the fanfare subsides teachers are now focusing on the important task of enhancing education standards and delivering better results for the community."
Lyndsay McRoberts, Executive Headteacher at Ayr Academy said, "It's taken a lot of hard work to get the building up and running, but we're already seeing a change in the way our young people respond. "With a custom made building we are now able to deliver lessons in a modern environment, open up the way we learn in sessions from our break-out learning plazas, and importantly improve access to sports and physical activity. "Taken as a whole we now have the building blocks in place to engage with young people much better than we could in the old building, which is something that we'll use to help drive higher attainment in the years ahead." The building has already proved to be a big hit with young people. Christie Telfer S3 said, "The new school makes me feel happy and safe. It's a place where I feel valued and respected. I'm loving the new school as we have more opportunities to help us grow."