The new Anderson High School will represent a “different world” to youngsters once they move into the Clickimin premises on 7th September 2017, according to its project director.
Morrison Construction’s Mark Clarke highlighted the main features behind the new school and hall of residence at Monday night’s Lerwick Community Council meeting.
Mr Clarke, who counts the management of a new school in Elgin as one part of his past experience in the industry, said children used to the present school at the Knab would really notice the difference once the £55.75 million project has been completed.
“When we get this building put together, it will just be a different world to children compared to where they are now,” Mr Clarke said.
The school building’s overall form has been steadily taking shape. Last month the final level of concrete for the fourth floor was poured.
“From our point of view we’re very happy with that performance,” said Mr Clarke.
Work on the hall of residence is also progressing, with work having begun in putting up the roof’s steel-work.
Speaking about the Elgin project, Mr Clarke said: “I was only involved very latterly in that, but it was great to see the reaction it got.”
Developers have been eager to stress a high standard being built into the Anderson High School project since the debacle surrounding Edinburgh schools built under a controversial PPI initiative emerged.
The Edinburgh issue was not raised at the meeting and, questioned by Lerwick councillor Jonathan Wills, Mr Clarke said the biggest challenge had been the task of breaking through hard rock in order to progress with the project.
“I’ve done a lot of construction over the years. The rock I encountered on this project is just about as tough as I’ve come across.
“But that speaks for its quality,” he added. “The school won’t be going anywhere.”
A key part of the new school’s design is a well-lit central atrium providing a social area for pupils to congregate.
Retired teacher Stuart Hay was eager to hear whether the design was “flexible enough” to adjust to changing learning needs.
Mr Clarke said that was a central feature of modern school design which was far removed from the “higgledy-piggledy” layout of 1960s tower designs.
“I’ve been involved in a number of schools. The nature of these buildings now are such that they get a level of flexibility built into them. There is an opportunity to develop spaces to suit needs as they evolve.”
Mr Clarke stressed the intention remained to have the school finished on time, although he said he was not being complacent. Logistical problems, he said, could throw a spanner in the works at any time.
“I’m pushing as hard as I can to beat that date. If I keep pushing, we might meet it,” he said.
Building the new school has taxed the minds of industry and the council for years.
But with the project now well under way, thoughts are beginning to turn to how the move from the Knab will be carried out.
Project manager Trevor Smith, who was also present at the meeting, said school management was beginning to think about how the move would take place, with thoughts very much focused on what would prove to be the least disruptive.
Mr Clarke drew on his experience from Elgin again, and said the key lay in being “ruthless”.
“It’s a massive task. The trick is you have to be ruthless and get rid of everything you don’t need.”