Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney, has officially opened Whatriggs Primary and Early Childhood Centre unveiling a plaque to mark the special occasion.
Mr Swinney was welcomed to the school by Head Boy Bailey Connor and Deputy Head Girl Brooke Campbell. Bailey and Brooke took their role very seriously and spoke at length to Mr Swinney about their wonderful new school.
In the main assembly hall, which has dual use as the school’s dining hall, Mr Swinney was invited to unveil a vibrant plaque that reflected the school’s countryside setting and the importance of outdoor learning for young people.
The children and young people then performed four songs – Three Craws, Robin Reid Breist, Banks and Braes and Robin Singing Reggae before school chaplain, Reverend Taylor Brown from Kilmarnock South Parish Church led a prayer of dedication.
A tour of the campus, led by Headteacher Diane MacKinnon, gave Mr Swinney and invited guests, an opportunity to view the colourful classrooms and playrooms, cleverly designed with built in storage to maximise learning space.
The classrooms and playrooms open directly onto outdoor learning areas and the open plan areas within the building, give teachers and practitioners the opportunity to change learning spaces seamlessly encouraging active learning.
They also viewed the school library that doubles as a community library. Mrs MacKinnon explained how the community could access facilities including meeting spaces and the library out with school hours.
Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary, John Swinney, said: “It was a pleasure to be invited to officially open the fantastic new Whatriggs Primary School, Early Childhood Centre and Community Centre. I am sure it will be a great environment that will inspire a love of learning and will make an extremely positive difference to the wider community.
“The Scottish Government is committed to improving the school estate across Scotland. That is why through the £1.8 billion Schools for the Future building programme – we are providing funding towards this excellent new campus.”
Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of the Council said: “I was delighted to welcome John Swinney to Whatriggs Primary and Early Childhood Centre to perform the official opening of the new campus.
“Children and young people from the former Bellfield and Kirkstyle Primaries have been welcomed to Whatriggs with open arms. The campus has created a positive environment where children can thrive and through its clever design active, outdoor and creative learning is a part of everyday school life.
“The £12.4m campus was a massive investment for Bellfield, in a beautiful setting in the heart of the community. The team that delivered this project, Headteacher Diane MacKinnon, our teaching staff and early years practitioners deserve the highest praise for ensuring that our young people have the very best start in life.”
The early childhood centre was one of the first in Scotland to deliver 1140 hours of early learning and childcare. It provides a flexible model of provision between 08:00 and 18:00 Monday to Friday throughout the calendar year.
It is registered for 88 places for children aged 3 and 4 years old and 10 places for children aged 2 to 3 years. In addition to the normal morning and afternoon sessions, parents can access a different pattern of hours dependent on their needs.
The Whatriggs Campus is part of the Council’s 10 year £500m capital improvement programme. The original campus design, created by East Ayrshire Council’s architects, was developed by the main contractor Morrison Construction in partnership with award winning architects, Keppie Design.
Eddie Robertson, Morrison Construction’s managing director for Central Scotland, said: “It was great to be at the award-winning Whatriggs Primary School and Early Childhood Centre today and hear how pupils and staff have been enjoying the new facilities since moving in during August last year.
“We enjoyed working collaboratively with East Ayrshire Council, teachers and pupils to ensure the new school met their needs now and into the future.’’