Peebles High School - New Build

Peebles High School – New Build

Background

In 2018, we 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.

Following the fire in 2019, we revisited  the Capital Plans and chose to accelerate Peebles High School ahead of both Hawick and Selkirk High Schools.

The fire resulted in the loss of 26 teaching spaces, the ASN unit and a large number of ancillary spaces including the majority of pupil toilets and the fire caused significant negative impact on the condition and suitability of the existing building. 

Early Community Engagement in March 2020 started off feasibility work to replace the damaged elements of the school but in December 2020, a report identified that there were concerns about the impact on learners during the plans to refurbish and extend the school.

In January 2021, a further report identified that there would be less impact overall to build a complete new school.

Strategic Context

Our Council Plan explains that ‘Fulfilling our Potential' is one of six key outcomes that we are seeking to achieve.

The priority for fulfiling 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 strategic outcome forms the basis for the Strategic Vision for the Peebles High School 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. The learning environment must be good quality, warm, safe/ secure, accessible and inclusive to the range of needs of learners.
  4. 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.
  5. There should be attractive, natural outdoor spaces for learning, social interaction, sport, events and shelter.
  6. 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:

Condition

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.

Energy

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.

Economic Growth 

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.

Stallan Brand Architects were appointed to the lead architect role.   They have a strong track record of successfully delivering projects including Jedburgh Grammar Campus, Langlee and Broomlands Primary School.  We 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.

As a consequence of having a small internal team, there are some aspects of the project that we are unable to deliver directly which equally fall outwith the scope of services with the Hub South East Scotland approach, typically this is at the beginning and end of the project. 

To fill this gap, we have adopted an approach that extends the scope of the project's architect to provide additional services such as a range of engagement activities with key stakeholders and community consultation.  This extended scope is about enhancing services that they already provide.  The scope also includes other aspects for successful completion, such as the fit out (furnishing, fittings and equipment) which need to be designed, procured, and installation coordinated as well as other services related to building commissioning prior to and following the buildings handover.  There is an additional fee for these services, which when considered against the full development cost of the project is a relatively small proportion but adds significantly in raising the overall quality of the finished project.

This delivery approach is tried and tested and is considered a key success factor in our recently completed school projects.

Governance 

The School Programme Board oversee and provide governance, guidance and support to the Peebles High School 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.

Budget

 We are responsible for making sure financial investments maximum value.  Despite an agreed budget of £46m, £6m of which comes from the insurance settlement, the current project cost is £50.2m.  The increase in expected capital costs are as a direct consequence of the impact of inflation and place the project in a precarious budget position.

The Schools Programme Board have considered costs and considered the options available:

  1. Continue the Phase 1 works currently underway but stop and abandon the new build school project.  Utilise the fire insurance settlement to refurbish the abandoned elements of the school damaged by fire.
  2. Continue the Phase 1 works currently underway but pause the new build school project and undertake a significant value engineering exercise that would look at reducing the scope, specification and scale of the project to bring the project back in line with budget.
  3. Review our entire capital programme, accept the increase in costs and include in future capital budgets enabling the project to continue as planned to the desired timescales.

Whilst the Schools Programme Board understand the range of constraints that the project faces, they also recognise that vision and the brief that is to be achieved.  They have recommended to progress with Option 3, striking the right balance with the priority first and foremost in delivering a school that provides all young people access to positive, safe, good quality and inclusive learning environments that provides opportunities for young learners to develop their knowledge, skills, ambitions, confidence and self-esteem to the fullest potential. 

Statutory Consultation 

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 June 2021, starting the consultation process within the community for the new build replacement.

A copy of the online material can be found here.

A total of 125 comments were received from the local community and following on from this consultation process a report was prepared. A copy of the report can be found here

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 July 2022, full planning consent was granted allowing the project to move to the detailed design and construction stage.

Timescales & Engagement 

Detailed engagament to review the internal design of the school has taken place with the teaching staff from June to December at various key workshop sessions.  The floor plans and layouts, which continue to be refined, are available to view here. 

A digital fly-through of the proposed building can be viewed on our Youtube channel here.

A community drop in event was held on 20 October with over 200 attendees reviewing boards and the approved plans from the planning process.  Requests were made to see more detail of the internal design. Over 50 direct comments were made from the community that attended.  In response, a series of follow on events have been held in November and December.   See the architect's presentation material Design Principles, Internal Floor Layouts  and FAQs.

It is planned to hold a further series of engagement sessions starting off with a drop in session on Thursday 2 February at the Eastgate Theatre where project team will be on hand to review the plans for the school.  Further sessions are being planned for February in Innerleithen and West Linton.  

Construction 

Peebles High School was granted planning consent on 4 July 2022 and has recently signed an enabling works contract with Hub South East Scotland and BAM Construction and works have begun on-site.  The main works will commencing in February 2023 with completion in June 2025 ensuring that both projects comply with the overall objective of being open by December 2025.

We have appointed BAM Construction to build the new school and works for the external 3G sports pitch and extension to the games hall has already started.  This is planned to finish in the spring of 2023 and allow the main building works to commence and will be completed by Spring 2025.  Following this the old school will be demolished allowing for the finishing landscaping works to be completed by Autumn 2025.  The Scottish Government have asked for the project to be complete by December 2025 as a funding condition.