Mr Swinney joined East Lothian Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services, Councillor Shamin Akhtar, to unveil a plaque officially opening the new school. He also received a tour of the building, met pupils and joined some nursery and primary 1 children for a construction-themed loose parts play session in the spacious outdoor play area.
Mr Swinney previously attended a ground-breaking ceremony to mark the start of construction on the £18.9m school in October 2017. The project received a £4.5m grant from the Scottish Government’s Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme, administered by the Scottish Future’s Trust. His visit Wallyford Primary School gave him the opportunity to see the finished facility and hear from pupils, staff and members of the community about the difference it is making for them.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “It is wonderful to be able to come back and see the progress since the ground breaking and how the ideas that the children and staff put forward have been realised. The new, state-of-the-art Wallyford Primary School will not only benefit generations of pupils, teachers and staff for years to come with a specifically-designed learning environment they can be proud of, but the new library and sports facilities will also have wider-reaching benefits for the local community.
“This is one of 117 schools to be replaced or refurbished as part of our Schools for the Future programme, and one of two East Lothian Council school projects to receive funding.
“I would like to thank East Lothian Council for inviting me to open the school and for its continued commitment to its school estate.”
The new campus offers room for modern educational facilities for a growing school population, surrounded by plenty of outdoor space. A new community library has been provided within the school named after Margaret Oliphant, a 19th century novelist from the town.
East Lothian Council’s Cabinet spokesperson for Education and Children’s Services, Councillor Shamin Akhtar, said: “I have been so impressed with the opportunities our children had to share their views on the new school, and the care that was taken to incorporate their ideas during the design process. There are many touches throughout that reflect the heritage of the area to create an inspiring learning environment that is rooted in its community. It’s a joy to see the children settling into their new school and to hear the positive feedback from them and the staff team on this investment in their new facilities.”
Inclusion was at the heart of the design to increase accessibility and opportunities for the many children and groups that use the school. It also features Grace’s Signs for the toilet and car park, highlighting and encouraging greater understanding of ‘hidden’ disabilities.
Wallyford Primary School Headteacher Mhairi Stratton said: “We’re all enjoying the new space and the opportunities for learning and teaching that it has given us. Feedback from our children, parents and the wider community has been really positive. It’s great to welcome Mr Swinney and all the guests here today to show off our school and celebrate its official opening.”
Wallyford is playing an important part in East Lothian’s growth. 10,050 new homes are needed in the county by 2024 to cope with population increases; 1450 of these will be built in the Wallyford area with permission for a further 600 homes likely to be granted. The size and scale of development meant that the old school building on Salter's Road was no longer able to meet local needs. Land was secured on the east side of the town as part of the St Clement’s Wells development to create a new primary school. The council is in the process of securing neighbouring land to provide an additional secondary school for the Musselburgh area while space has been zoned to create a new retail centre.
East Lothian Council’s Chief Executive Angela Leitch said: “East Lothian is Scotland’s fastest growing local authority area and the pace and scale of development in Wallyford offers significant opportunities to our residents such as these new education and community facilities. Working with partners and making links to other strategic developments, we are sustainably growing the county and ensuring the economic benefits flow through to our communities.”
East Lothian Council’s development partner, Hub South East, was responsible for delivering the primary school project delivery and appointed Morrison Construction as the contractor.
Roddy Clark, Hub South East’s Projects Director commented: “We were delighted to be included in the party welcoming Mr Swinney to the fantastic new Wallyford Primary School today, showcasing the largest value primary school in the Hub programme in Scotland and marking the 47th educational facility successfully delivered by Hub South East.
“We’re particularly proud that as well as delivering a first class learning space for pupils and staff, this project has realised a range of benefits for the wider community, supporting a local supply chain and generating significant social value and economic impact as a result of the investment in the area.”
Morrison Construction, Operations Director, David Wilson said: ‘‘It is wonderful to welcome Deputy First Minister John Swinney back to Wallyford Primary School after he first visited the project to take part in the ground breaking ceremony with local pupils in late 2017.
‘‘We are proud to have delivered this fantastic school for East Lothian Council, which again demonstrates the state-of-the-art facilities our experienced team continue to build in the education sector.
''During construction, we invested £5.6million into the community through the employment of local businesses. Our progressive social value programme also provided 166 days of work experience, supporting 13 apprenticeships and four trainees.’’