Schools to be a hub for building better communities

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Langlee Primary School’s new head teacher was blown away by the new school building even before she knew there was a job going.

As pupils and parents watched the official opening of the £10million facility yesterday (Wednesday, August 16), its head teacher Eileen Jessamine, who is moving to the Borders from Skene Square Primary School in Aberdeen, said she was ecstatic to lead pupils into what she says is a fantastic new building.

She said: “I am so excited and I am so proud to be here.

“I did not know the day that I took my daughter down to Galashiels to see the Heriot-Watt art school, that I would get lost, and think this was part of the building.

“I thought ‘Oh wow’ and when she was on her tour, I looked up this school and found there was a job going,

“This school comprises a wish list of everything I could ever have wanted in 25 years of my career. It is absolutely astonishing.

“The welcome I have received in the Scottish Borders is amazing, from the people within the school, from the authority, and from the local removers – who are moving things to my house here as we speak,

“We are really looking forward to solving every difficulty we can for our children, because in actual fact, if a child has a safe and secure learning environment, we already have the grounding to move forward.”

The original plan was to have the old school, built in 1956, completely demolished and landscaped before the start of the new term.

However, contractors found more asbestos insulation than they were expecting, so that part of the project is taking longer than expected due to the need to extract the asbestos in a safe manner.

However, Eileen enthused: “If this is plan B, what would plan A look like?

“What the builders [contractors McLaughlin and Harvey] have managed to do in the space of one year is fantastic.

“The architecture in this new school is just something else. The kids are going to get blown away by it.”

Leader of SBC Shona Haslam cut the ribbon to open the school, saying: “Schools are about community, and I know many of you have fond memories of the previous primary school.

“But this new school will help build a better community of parents, children and teachers. It is going to help teachers become better teachers, it is going to help the community to be a better community, and it’s going to help you kids to reach higher and aim further than you ever thought possible.”

Helping Mrs Haslam open the school was SBC convener David Parker; SBC councillors Andy Anderson and Elaine Thornton-Nicol; longest serving teacher Marion Rommeril; Langlee Lad and Lass Danny Lindores and Taylor Patterson, and birthday pupils Corey Murray and Taylor Harkness.

The school includes 14 classrooms, a sports hall, an outdoor MUGA pitch, a centre for children with severe and complex additional needs and provision for early learning and childcare.

Also opening its doors to pupils for the first time yesterday was the new £8.6million Duns Primary, with the ribbon cut by SBC’s executive member for children and young people, Councillor Carol Hamilton.

She said: “It is fantastic to see both of these schools open.

“Langlee Primary has been an integral part of the local community for nearly 60 years and holds many fond memories for local people.

“However, we are sure the new school building with be a tremendous asset for generations of children, as well as the Langlee and Galashiels communities.

“For pupils and staff at Duns Primary, it really is a historic day, ending 137 years of the primary school being located in the current building on Langtongate.

“However, I know everyone has been looking forward to the move to the new campus, which will also include the Berwickshire Locality Support Centre.

“We now look forward to Kelso High and Broomlands Primary opening their doors, while we continue to progress plans for a new intergenerational campus in Jedburgh.”