Galashiels Academy - New Build
In 2018, Scottish Borders Council approved the sequence and priority for capital investment in the School Estate as Galashiels Academy, Hawick High School, Selkirk High School and finally Peebles High School.
This came from the creation of individualised secondary school strategic plans following an assessment of condition, suitability, capacity as well as engagement with pupils, staff, parents, parent councils and the community in each cluster.
Funding to replace the existing Galashiels Academy with a new community campus was approved by the Scottish Government through their Learning Estate Investment Programme in December 2020.
Within our Council Plan ‘Fulfilling our Potential' is one of six key outcomes that we are seeking to achieve.
The priority of ‘Fulfilling our Potential’ is to empower schools and their communities to deliver a high quality education focused on excellence, equality, wellbeing and improved outcomes for children, young people, and families.
This outcome forms the basis for the Strategic Vision for the Galashiels Academy replacement project and the project brief.
Strategic Vision for the Project
Our aspirations for our learning estate reflect the high value that we place on learning. Our vision is for well designed, maintained and managed buildings that facilitate the learning and skills development required for the rapid changes of life, learning and work and highlights that our young people need to develop skills to be flexible and adaptable.
This aspiration complements the vision of the hugely successful Inspire Learning programme which is our Digital Learning Transformation Programme intended to create a world-class learning environment that will reduce inequality and improve academic achievement across the Scottish Borders and is pivotal to future learning within the Scottish Borders.
In early 2022, a workshop to refresh our schools strategic brief identified that all learners should have equality of access to positive learning environments. It recognised that opportunities should be provided for pupils to develop their skills, ambitions, confidence and self-esteem and recognised that school buildings have a significant role to play in raising educational standards.
Our schools need to be good quality, warm, safe, with well-designed inclusive facilities that inspire young people, teachers and communities and meet their aspirations and evolving needs and to provide the greatest opportunity to fulfil their potential.
Project Brief Objectives
We have developed a strategic brief to inform the development of school learning environments in the Scottish Borders which sets out a series of six objectives expected of any new school facility:
- All pupils should have equality of access to positive learning environments and provided opportunities to develop their knowledge, skills, ambitions, confidence and self-esteem to the fullest potential.
- Investment in new facilities should bring maximum value to the public purse and where possible providing seamless integration of the learning environment with community facilities.
- The learning environment must be good quality, warm, safe/ secure, accessible and inclusive to the range of needs of learners.
- The facility should be designed to be flexible and adaptable with providing a range of uses and different environments for formal and informal learning settings.
- There should be attractive, natural outdoor spaces for learning, social interaction, sport, events and shelter.
- The facility should be welcoming, and reflect the identity of the school with clear wayfinding and showcasing/ exhibit space and helping to managing flows of different groups of people at different times.
The places where learning happens need to be flexible and adaptable to respond to the changing demands. Designs need to look forward and reflect places of work and study beyond the school years as well as meeting the needs of all activities, not just the traditional core teaching. Innovative design enables boundaries to be pushed to offer success. In the post-Covid world, workplaces will look very different with remote and flexible working more prevalent, and in preparing our young people for this, learning environments must also adapt.
The Learning Estate Investment Programme
The financial support provided by the Scottish Government through the Learning Estate Investment Programme (LEIP) programme is outcome based funding which is released on evidence of the achievement of agreed outcomes. In achieving these outcomes this has an impact on the design and construction costs of the project:
Maintaining an A or B condition rating for the building for a period of 25 years, this recognises that school infrastructure is one of the critical factors that significantly contributes to educational outcomes, and therefore maintaining the high quality of the asset is of critical importance.
This funding outcome also aligns with our Fit for 2024 transformation programme. Where possible, it is our intention to accommodate a wider range of public services to improve access and quality of public services available. It provides opportunities to rationalise our estate or avoid duplication of functions across the estate enabling a more focused investment and helping provide longer term financial sustainability to the public sector.
Achieving an ambitious energy target that will see a significant reduction in energy consumption within our new school estate. This aligns with our Climate Emergency declaration in September 2020 which places a priority focus on leading the way in achieving the highest environmental credentials for all new capital projects. This includes energy efficiency and consumption, use of natural resources, minimising waste, biodiversity, quality of the internal environment and its contribution towards improving health, wellbeing and attainment of staff and pupils.
Digitally enabled learning
Digital is an evolving and fast-growing area and one that is becoming more prevalent in every-day learning as digital learning and teaching strategies continue to develop. With this in mind, we are working to ensure facilities are future proofed and able to continue to support high quality digital learning and teaching, regardless of technology advancement.
Through the Inspire Learning programme, our Digital Learning Transformation Programme, technology will be at the forefront of education in the new facility helping support the learning of all children.
Provide opportunities for creating employment and support local SMEs in the design, construction and operation of the schools, contributing to the local and regional economic growth.
Quality, Design & Delivery
We have a strong and nationally recognised reputation for delivering high quality projects with a very small internal team.
Often, consistency and continuity of delivery approach, methods and teams can bring benefits and we intend to deliver the project using tried and tested design teams, project managers and contractors.
The project is being delivered in partnership with Hub South East Scotland, a development partner who works with public bodies to deliver projects like this. They have had a significant role in delivering other projects like Jedburgh Grammar Campus and they bring with them the design and construction expertise to the project through a very well established delivery approach. They are also very experienced in minimising disruption during the construction period which is one significant issue that needs careful planning and management.
JM Architects were appointed to the lead architect role. They have a strong track record of successfully delivering projects. Scottish Borders Council are confident that they understand the education model that we are seeking to achieve as well as the communities we serve in the Scottish Borders.
The School Programme Board oversee and provide governance, guidance and support to the Galashiels Academy project team. There are clearly defined roles and responsibilities within the Programme Board and the project delivery team. The Programme Board reports to our Strategic Leadership Team, who ultimately report to us.
The community, and a large number of public groups and partner organisations are valued and important stakeholders who will ultimately benefit from and will be impacted by projects that we undertake. The Programme Board and project delivery team will engage frequently with stakeholders seeking views and providing updates at key points during the project’s life.
Stakeholders do not hold any decision making powers, this rests within the delegated powers and within agreed tolerances.
We are responsible for making sure financial investments maximum value. The budget for this project is £60.8M and funded through the Council’s Capital Investment Plan.
In June 2021 a Proposal of Application Notice was published starting off the consultation process within the community for the new build replacement.
A formal Online Consultation was undertaken following the Proposal of Application Notice publication in July 2021, starting the consultation process within the community for the new build replacement.
The completion of this consultation process and a review of the comments made allowed for the submission of a full planning application in February 2022. In September 2022, full planning consent was granted allowing the project to move to the detailed design and construction stage.
In March 2023, a statutory consultation has commenced under The Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010. This process is intended to conclude with a report to Education Scotland later in 2023.
Timescales & Engagement
A report was taken to Council in December 2020 following on from some exploratory works in and around the new school location. This report identified a range of options for the location of the new school building and its associated external sports facilities. The report recommended an online and digital engagement exercise should be undertaken within the community.
An informal community engagement exercise on plans for a new secondary school in Galashiels ran between 18 March and 25 April 2021 to allow members of the community to provide their feedback on the proposals. Due to the restrictions in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this took place virtually on an online consultation platform.
Various videos outlining the vision for the proposed campus, with animated fly-throughs of what the facility may look like and interviews with pupils and members of the community were featured on the website.
The informal community engagement closed to the public on 26 April 2021 but can still be viewed.
At the conclusion of the informal engagement, a further report was taken to Council in May 2021. Councillors approved the location of the new school building and associated sports facilities allowing the project to move on to the next design stages.
Detailed Design and Construction
Galashiels Academy was granted planning consent on 7 September 2022. This allowed the project to proceed to detailed design including further stakeholder engagement. Copies of the up to date floor plans and a fly-through video of what the school will look like internally are available.
The project has recently signed an enabling works contract with Hub South East Scotland and Morrison Construction and these preparatory works are well in hand. The main works will commence in summer 2023 with completion in the summer 2025 ensuring that this projects complies with the overall objective of being open by December 2025.
The Scottish Government have asked for the project to be complete by December 2025 as a funding condition.
Following this the old school will be demolished allow for the construction of 2G/3G pitch, Tennis Courts and Landscaping works to be completed in 2026.
Morrison Construction will be issuing regular Newsletters, to provide updates to the local community about the progress of the new Galashiels Academy project.