Hundreds of enthusiastic pupils gave a gold star to Coatbridge’s newest school as they began lessons at the £44 million campus on Monday.
Youngsters from St Ambrose and Buchanan high schools made the long-awaited move into their new classrooms at the new Townhead Road building, in Drumpellier park – and were thrilled by their new surroundings.
The new building replaces St Ambrose’s former home on Blair Road, and Buchanan High’s old premises in the secondary department at Drumpark School in Bargeddie.
It also provides facilities for the Townhead area including a community centre, and the six sports pitches will become available for community hire at evenings and weekends.
Pupils are already taking advantage not only of the games facilities but also features including an atrium of social space, assembly hall with stage and professional lighting facilities and an open-plan art department with floor-to-ceiling windows.
Head teachers Ellen Douglas of St Ambrose, a specialist music comprehensive, and Margaret Fannon – who took up her post at Buchanan High just days before the move – declared the new school building “absolutely wonderful” as youngsters arrived to get down to work in the new classrooms.
Mrs Douglas said: “It’s exceeded all our expectations and our pupils and staff are just amazed at how good the new school is – I think everyone will really look forward to coming here each day.
“It’s a stimulating, creative environment for our pupils which will allow high-quality learning and teaching, and has a wide range of facilities like considerably enhanced social areas, sport and music provision, all of which our old school sadly lacked.”
Mrs Fannon said: “The school has been designed to meet the needs of our pupils; I’m really looking forward to starting my new role in such a stunning campus, and to working in partnership with staff and pupils at St Ambrose to make it a success.”
Pupils and staff were greeted by a piper in full Highland dress as they arrived at the new school for the first time, while learning and leisure convener Jim Logue cut ceremonial ribbons to mark the opening of both parts of the campus.
The Airdrie Central councillor promised: “There won’t be a better educational campus and community leisure facility anywhere in the country.
“We’re determined to give our young people the best possible start in life and this new campus does just that – contractors Balfour Beatty have done a marvellous job and the project has been nominated for national awards.
“In addition, the new facilities will shortly become a sports hub, available for community use at evenings and weekends.”
Senior pupils were quick to praise their new school – seventeen-year-old Peter Donahue said: “It’s fantastic and is so big, bright and colourful.”
Lisa McGowan (16) added: “We have been watching the school taking shape over the past couple of years and were all really excited about moving here – we’re really impressed with how modern everything is, in particular the music and PE facilities.”
The new campus is part of North Lanarkshire’s Schools and Centres 21 project.