The foundation stone for Scotland’s most innovative and ambitious community learning project – the £68m Barony Campus in Cumnock – has been laid by Deputy First Minister John Swinney.
The new Campus will offer unparalleled educational, sporting, social, enterprise and leisure opportunities to children, young people and the local community.
Welcoming the Deputy First Minister to the site of the new Campus, Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council said: “East Ayrshire is leading Scotland with this Campus, which has been brought to life thanks to the input from pupils, parents, teachers and the wider local communities.
“East Ayrshire Council has education and the success of our children firmly at the heart of our Capital Investment Programme and I am delighted to welcome the Deputy First Minister to lay the foundation stone at the Barony Campus.
“This is easily the biggest capital investment we have ever undertaken and the Barony Campus will be nothing short of extraordinary.
“It will offer an up-to-the-minute learning and teaching environment to enable every child and young person to reach their full potential, regardless of their background, as well as giving the local community access to a host of superb sports, leisure, educational and social facilities.”
Deputy First Minister, John Swinney said: “I would like to thank East Ayrshire Council for inviting me to unveil the foundation stone at the site of the new Barony Campus and help mark the start of the process which will result in a fantastic facility that the whole community can be proud of.
“Thanks to the vision and imagination of East Ayrshire Council and Morrison Construction, this Campus will be the focus for the hopes and aspirations of our young people, bringing together all aspects their learning journey in truly inclusive and integrated learning environment.
“The innovation and design fits perfectly with our vision for education into the future and I congratulate the Council on what promises to be an outstanding new facility for all.
“The Scottish Government’s £1.8 billion Schools for the Future programme will see 117 schools replaced or refurbished by 2020. I am extremely pleased that as part of this we have been able to contribute £16.7 million towards the £90m construction and refurbishment projects at Hurlford, Whatriggs, Muirkirk Primary Schools and the Barony Campus.
“I wish the school, and everybody in it, all the very best for the future and look forward to visiting the Campus again once it is completed.”
To mark the occasion, pupils from all schools and members of the local community prepared time capsules to be buried on the site, containing items of local relevance and importance. The young people delighted guests with their explanations of the contents of their capsules, which included school ties, photographs, press cuttings, timetables, music items and teacher survival kits.
John Swinney commended the young people for their contributions, saying that they were “outstanding in how they represented their school and great examples of why Scotland can be confident of its future”, before donning a VR headset to take a virtual tour of the new Campus.
Eddie Robertson, Morrison Construction’s Managing Director for Central Scotland, said: “We are delighted to welcome the Deputy First Minister and members of East Ayrshire Council to celebrate this important project milestone.
‘‘The steel frame installation, underway since the start of the month, is beginning to give shape to the first-class facilities we will deliver for the Cumnock and Auchinleck communities. The car park is nearing completion and the works for the 3G pitches are well underway.
‘‘We will continue working hard with all stakeholders involved to make sure we continue our excellent progress and deliver a first-class facility.”
Adam McGhee, Partner at Sheppard Robson who designed the facility commented: “We are delighted to be working with East Ayrshire Council and Morrison Construction on this exciting and transformational project. The Barony Campus will set a new standard for education that reflects the integration of high academic ambition with enhanced sporting and learning facilities for the local community.”
The name of the campus pays homage to the heritage of hard work, togetherness, community spirit, pride and respect – hallmarks of the mining history in the local area.
It will comprise four new establishments:
• Robert Burns Academy, an amalgamation of Auchinleck and Cumnock Academies)
• Lochnorris Primary School, welcoming pupils from Barshare and Greenmill Primary Schools
• Hillside School, which will be purpose built for young people with complex additional needs, retains its name
• Cherry Trees Early Childhood Centre, which will deliver the new early years arrangements for children from Barshare and Greenmill Early Childhood Centres.
Councillor Reid concluded: “Today’s event marks a significant milestone for the Barony Campus and I’m delighted that John Swinney was able to join these young people and members of our community in celebrating this occasion.
“This Campus will offer our young learners every opportunity to explore new horizons, learning in new and dynamic ways and to fire their imaginations, building on this fantastic legacy of achievement.
“Looking further ahead, it’s exciting to think it will inspire and drive a new educational heritage, and be a stunning community facility serving our pupils, and local residents for many more generations to come.”