Teachers at a new £38 million high school campus have described it as “much nicer” after moving into the new state-of-the-art facilities.
Midlothian councillor Dianne Alexander praised the impact of Newbattle High School and community campus, which opened last year.
Speaking as the council confirmed Scottish Government funding for a new centre of excellence to replace Beeslack Community High School in Penicuik, Councillor Alexander (SNP) held up the success of Newbattle as an example of the county’s success.
And she revealed that a visit to the high school had revealed how much things had improved with attendance and learning since pupils and staff moved into the new site.
She said: “Talking to pupils at Newbattle, I learned how their new school had improved attendance and the learning experience and their achievements in class.
“They feel valued in the space that has been created for them.
“Their learning in science, technology and design has been revolutionised with the use of digital technology and, what would have been so useful to me as a dyslexic pupil, no note-taking from the board.
“All the teachers’ notes and school resources are there ready for them on their tablets, computers and their own phones.
“I’ve even been told teachers are now much nicer because they too are benefiting and enjoying the teaching an this lovely learning, friendly environment.”
Her comments came as council officers confirmed that the Scottish Government was to fund up to 50 per cent of the planned £33m new centre of excellence planned for the A701 next to Roslin.
Councillor Jim Muirhead (Lab)said that there was no doubt the council’s success with previous projects such as Newbattle had helped them secure the funding from the Scottish Government as part of its learning estate investment.
Mr Muirhead said: “The reason I think we have been successful is our track record in delivering projects, delivering them on time and within budget and being prepared to think outside the box a bit and look at innovative projects.
“We also made sure we showcased what we had done up to now as much as we could; the Deputy First Minister has attended on several occasions in Midlothian.”
Councillor Andrew Hardie (Con) questioned whether a full consultation had been carried out about the location of the new school at a new site.
He said: “I welcome the new school. I think a lot of local residents, particularly in the Penicuik end of Midlothian that currently use Beeslack, would have quite a lot of concerns about the movement of the school from an area which is currently part of a community.
“The school has community facilities which are used by local residents as well as by parents and school pupils into an area which is removed from a local community.
“We need to have a full consultation about whether this is the right fit for the parents of Midlothian and local residents about their concerns about removing a school from a community and putting it adjacent to a large roundabout on a commuter route.”
Mary Smith, director of education at Midlothian Council, assured Mr Hardie that a full consultation would be held before final decisions were made.
And she said that while the high school would be replaced “like for like”, there were also plans to invest in Penicuik High School, “keeping the front facade and then doing the back”.
She said plans were under way to hold ‘information sessions’ next month on the new replacement for Beeslack, with a full consultation proposed further along the process.