As Co-Leader of the Council the working week is dominated by planning for the future and decision making – but by far the most satisfying part of the role is seeing those plans come to fruition.
It has been a real privilege and a pleasure to have been given tours of the latest additions to Aberdeen’s schools estate as preparations for the new academic year continue.
Lochside Academy and Stoneywood School are fantastic facilities and it was inspiring to see at first hand the environment that pupils and staff will be working in when they return in August. Both sites will be a hive of activity over the summer as final preparations are made, including the transfer of all books and learning materials.
With a combined investment of £60million in these buildings, following on from last summer’s opening of the £18.5m Orchard Brae School, the commitment to education has been backed with the finance required to make the vision for these sites a reality.
We visited Lochside Academy earlier in June on the day construction was completed and Stoneywood School this week to mark the handover from contractors to the Council.
Both are very different but equally impressive.
The scale of Lochside Academy, set over three storeys and with a capacity of up to 1,350 pupils, is the first thing that will strike visitors – but it has been carefully designed to ensure a warm and welcoming feel, perfect for modern learning. With its own swimming pool and extensive sports facilities, it will provide great service to the wider community.
Stoneywood School, which will accommodate up to 434 pupils, shares many of the striking contemporary features but has its own special character – from the brilliantly laid out nursery and bright and airy classrooms through to the outdoor learning spaces.
Attention to detail in both new schools is what really impresses. Whether in terms of the layout or the finishing touches, everything has been meticulously thought out.
Of course, the buildings will come to life when the pupils and staff arrive – but having the very best facilities will certainly have a positive impact on individuals and the communities these schools serve in the north and south of the city.
With three new schools opening in the space of a year, Aberdeen’s education provision is changing and improving rapidly. What we won’t do is rest on our laurels and the pipeline of new schools and investment in the existing estate will continue to be developed as we aim to give young people in all communities the best possible opportunities.
Kincorth Academy, Torry Academy and the existing Stoneywood School have been cornerstones of local life for generations and the celebrations this week to mark the end of an era at all three have paid tribute to the contribution they have made to Aberdeen as a whole. As the doors close on those schools we can look forward to the wonderful opportunities their replacements offer – it’s an exciting time for all those who will bring in the new school year in fresh surroundings.
Cllr Jenny Laing