Young people across South Ayrshire are set to benefit as work starts on the new Queen Margaret Academy in Ayr.

The new state-of-the-art school which will be completed in October 2019 will not only help transform learning but is set to become a hub for the local community.

John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and cabinet secretary for education and skills, joined with young people, staff and South Ayrshire councillors to mark the start of the work.

The £25 million project has been made possible thanks to £8.5m from South Ayrshire Council and £16.5m from the Scottish Government through their ‘Schools for the Future’ programme.

The new school which is currently being built in the grounds of the existing school will have places for up to 800 young people.

Featuring modern classrooms and interactive learning environments, large games hall, a gym, a fitness and movement room, two all-weather pitches, and hard games courts, the school is sure to impress.

Pupils Niamh Scullion (left) and Alex Hull join council leader Douglas Campbell and Deputy First Minister John Swinney

The new Queen Margaret Academy will also be home to Psychological Services and a Supported Learning Centre, which are already at the existing school and will have accommodation for teaching Gaelic.

When the school opens in 2019, the old building will then be demolished and the site fully landscaped.

The school is being built by Kier Construction and is being delivered by South Ayrshire Council in partnership with hub South West. The £25m project is part of a £94m programme of works delivered across South Ayrshire with the aim of enhancing standards through targeted investment.

John Swinney, Deputy First Minister, said: “We know state-of-the-art accommodation can inspire students, staff and parents, and so I am very happy to help get work started on the new academy which will be the 104th school to start construction of a total 117 to be built under the Schools for the Future programme by March 2020.

“I am looking forward to seeing the difference this building will make for pupils in years to come, and pleased the Scottish Government was able to provide almost £17m from our Schools for the Future programme to help make this happen.”

Councillor Peter Henderson, resources and performance portfolio holder at South Ayrshire Council, said: “The start of work at the new Queen Margaret Academy is another example of our commitment to transform learning environments across South Ayrshire.

“One of our priorities is to ensure young people leave school with the skills they need for learning, life and work and delivering a first-class education is a significant step towards achieving this.

“Schools always play a central role in our communities. We have just introduced an initiative in some of our schools called Our People, Our Place. Through these schools we work with partners to deliver local services in the heart of communities.

“I have no doubt that when complete the new Queen Margaret Academy will also be a focal point and a hub for the community.”

Michael McBrearty, chief executive of delivery partner, hub South West, said: “We are delighted to see construction works now commencing on the new Queen Margaret Academy site. Having worked with South Ayrshire Council previously on a number of successful projects including Dailly Primary School, Tarbolton Community Campus and the fantastic new Ayr Academy, we are looking forward to building on our portfolio and our relationship with the council.

“The new Queen Margaret Academy will be a real asset to the local community and a wonderfully modern and innovative environment in which young people can learn and thrive.”

Brian McQuade, managing director of Kier Construction Scotland, said: “We are pleased to start work on delivering this leading, modern academy for South Ayrshire Council which will provide fantastic new teaching and sports facilities for students and the wider community to enjoy.

“Through hub South West, we are working with local suppliers and SMEs to ensure that the project provides important training and employment opportunities and boosts the local economy. During construction, up to 100 workers will be on site during peak periods and we will create 20 work placements, 10 apprenticeships and a graduate traineeship, giving local young people valuable experience of working in this diverse and rewarding industry.”

Tony Flynn, Head Teacher at Queen Margaret Academy, said: “This is an exciting time for young people, parents and staff. The plans look amazing and extensive consultation took place to ensure the new school reflects the needs of everyone including the local community.

“The new school building will be a great benefit to our young people, given its state-of-the-art teaching facilities and extensive new sports facilities, which include two all-weather floodlit synthetic pitches and a fitness suite”.

The Bishop of Galloway, Right Reverend William Nolan blessed the site of the new school and said: “The Diocese of Galloway welcomes the investment by South Ayrshire Council and the Scottish Government in building a new Queen Margaret Academy.

“This investment in a new building is an investment in our teachers and staff, supporting them in their enthusiasm to educate, teach and inspire our young people.

“It’s an investment in our children and in their future. The provision of a modern purpose built facility will inspire our children to seize the opportunity to grow in knowledge, wisdom and virtue.

“It’s an investment in Catholic education, ensuring a new home of learning that will serve the young people of today and of future generations. As we cut the first turf today, we look forward to when this building is complete.”