Edinburgh’s Portobello High School tops out

Portobello High School EdinburghA topping out ceremony to mark progress on the new Portobello High School took place in Edinburgh yesterday.

After many years of planning, and obstacles along the way, construction work started on the new school in October 2014 and is due to be completed next summer.

The guest of honour at the ceremony was retiring Portobello High School Head Teacher Peigi Macarthur who was unaware she was laying the last piece of concrete until she arrived for the ceremony.

She was joined by the City of Edinburgh Council’s education convener, Cllr Paul Godzik, and Balfour Beatty regional managing director for Eastern Scotland, Hector Macaulay.

The new school will become the council’s largest secondary school with space for 1,400 pupils. In addition to providing state of the art teaching facilities, the school will have both indoor and outdoor sports facilities, including a swimming pool and two all weather pitches, enabling all curricular PE to be provided on site, rather than have pupils bussed off site as currently happens.

The local community will also benefit from the new facilities, which will be open for community use outside school hours, with local residents able to book the sports pitches free of charge as one of the compensation measures put in place to replace the loss of the park.

Another compensation measure will see a new £1 million park built on the area, which will remain on the existing combined Portobello High School and St John’s RC Primary School site after making provision for the necessary increase in the size of the site allocated to the new St John’s RC Primary School.

Cllr Godzik said: “This is a key stage in the Portobello project and an exciting day for everyone involved. Many people in the local area will be delighted to see the excellent progress being made on site as the school finally takes shape after so many years of uncertainty.

“What we’ve seen as architectural images are now coming to life and already it is clear this is going to be a fantastic state of the art building. Having Peigi top out the building is a fitting tribute after the key role she has played in the project and a lovely way to mark her retirement.

“Rebuilding Portobello High School is one of the Capital Coalition’s highest priorities and we were determined to ensure we met this commitment. The building is on schedule and I look forward to seeing the new school which will open its doors to pupils in summer 2016.”

Peigi Macarthur said: “It was a lovely surprise to be asked to carry out the topping out today! There have been lots of highs and lows in my 35 year career in education and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as Head Teacher of Portobello High School but the time is now right for me to hand over the reins as a new and exciting chapter begins in the school’s history.”

Hector MacAulay, Balfour Beatty regional managing director for Eastern Scotland, added: “Portobello High School is going to provide a state of the art learning platform for future generations in the city and it is great to see some of the current students here to mark this milestone as we reach the highest point in the construction of this fantastic new facility.”

Balfour Beatty also presented a Quaich to Cllr Godzik to mark the occasion.

The new school was given the go ahead after the City of Edinburgh Council successfully took a Private Bill through the Scottish Parliament which changed the status of Portobello Park allowing it to be appropriated for educational purposes.

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