Minister for Learning, Science & Scotland's Languages, Dr Alasdair Allan, elected members and officials from South Ayrshire Council, alongside pupils from Ayr Academy
Construction work at the new Ayr Academy Learning Campus is now officially underway. The £25 million project, funded by South Ayrshire Council through the Scottish Government's Scotland's Schools for the Future programme, is set to open in August 2017.
The project will be delivered by hub South West, set up in conjunction with the Scottish Future's Trust and other partner organisations, to deliver major public sector building projects. Building works will be undertaken by Kier Construction.
The new Ayr Academy, which will have capacity for up to 1,000 pupils at Ayr's Craigie Estate, also incorporates sports and community facilities including sports pitches, a multi-use hall, two gyms and a dance studio.
Minister for Learning, Science & Scotland's Languages, Dr Alasdair Allan, visited the site on Tuesday February 23 to mark the start of the construction process. He said the project was among the best in the country, "I'm pleased to see work moving ahead on a project that will provide the local community with a first-class facility.
"Today marks an exciting milestone for the new Ayr Academy and I'm delighted the Scottish Government could provide around £18 million towards the project.
"The benefits of the campus aren't just confined to education, with the project also supporting the local construction sector, creating fresh job opportunities and providing fantastic new facilities for the whole community to enjoy."
Councillor Margaret Toner, South Ayrshire Council's Portfolio Holder for Lifelong Learning, said: "It's great to see work getting underway to realise this fantastic new campus, a project that will transform the quality of education for a generation of pupils.
"In the next eighteen months people will see real progress as the project starts to take shape, and at the same time we'll be working closely with pupils so that they know exactly what to expect when they get here.
"Meanwhile a focus on partnership will see closer ties between the school, Ayrshire College and the University of the West of Scotland, a factor that will strengthen the education sector and provide more opportunities for young people."
Brian McQuade, managing director of Kier Construction's Scotland & north-east England business said:
"Education is one of the areas we specialise in and we have a proven track record in delivering similar projects in the sector; Kier Construction builds and refurbishes more than 200,000sq m of accommodation each year, which provides an average of 25,000 school places.
"The delivery of this project will require around 200 people working on site at its peak, which means it's an important scheme for South Ayrshire's economy, creating valuable employment and training opportunities in our local supply chain.
"It's an exciting milestone to be breaking ground on the project and we look forward to working closely with our partners to deliver the new school in the months ahead."
Michael McBrearty, Chief Executive of delivery partner hub South West added: "We enjoy a close working relationship with South Ayrshire Council, with the new campus being our sixth joint project.
"Our model helps deliver projects like Ayr Academy over relatively short periods, something that highlights the versatility of using the hub approach for public sector contracts.
"With a potential £500m construction pipeline in the next five years, we aim to continually improve our project's delivery model, seeking to reduce cost and lead-times."
Professor Malcolm Foley, Vice-Principal & Pro Vice-Chancellor (Engagement), and Dean of the School of Business & Enterprise at University of the West of Scotland, said, "UWS is proud to be at the heart of education, culture, and business development in Ayrshire.
"The new Learning Campus is a hugely important development for education in the region and will result in even greater partnership working between South Ayrshire Council, Ayrshire College and the University."