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Ness Castle: Everything you need to know about Inverness’s newest school

Ness Castle Primary school. Photo shows an artist's rendition of the finished product and a current view of the construction site, with the outer structure partially complete.
All the key facts about the new primary school serving Ness Castle and Ness-Side.

A new primary school is coming this year to serve the new Ness Castle and Ness-Side housing developments in Inverness.

Pupils recently voted and decided on Ness Castle Primary School as the official name.

Construction is well under way and families can soon decide whether their children will attend.

So who can go to the new school, where is it and what will it look like?

Here’s a list of everything you need to know ahead of the grand opening.

When will it open?

Kier Construction is in charge of the first phase of building. Workers broke ground on the building that will house the first 12 classrooms and nursery space in June 2021.

Construction of the first phase was on schedule for the school to open in August 2022, in time for the new school year. But in March, the council revealed that the work was four weeks behind schedule.

It may not be until October that pupils can attend their new school. If so, they’ll be housed at Holm Primary temporarily.

The second phase hasn’t been scheduled yet but will add space for another 12 classrooms.

Drag the slider across for a glimpse of how the new Ness Castle primary could take shape:

Who is it for?

The new Ness Castle primary school will draw from what used to be the Holm Primary catchment area. Some pupils from nearby Lochardil Primary may also wish to attend.

The new catchment area includes most of the southwestern portion of the former Holm catchment, including the Ness-Side and Ness Castle developments.

Councillors approved the new school to help alleviate roll pressure at existing schools.

Holm Primary is projected to be above capacity by 2023 according to council statistics. Without new schools in the area, it could potentially reach almost 200% capacity in the next 15 years.

The new school will be a part of the Inverness Royal Academy secondary catchment. The academy is currently below its 1,452-pupil capacity, but council statistics project it could be over capacity by 2024/25.

Where is it and what does it cost?

The school sits on the corner of Brodie Road and Dornoch Road, near the new Ness Castle housing development.

Construction at the new Ness Castle and Ness-Side primary began in June 2021. Supplied by Sandy McCook.

The school is budgeted for £14.8 million and is funded through the council’s capital programme.

The new Ness Castle primary is just one of many major additions to the council’s school estate planned for in upcoming years.

How many pupils will go there?

When construction crews lay the final brick, the new primary school will accommodate 850 pupils.

Stage one will create 12 classrooms for 333 primary pupils and three playrooms for 128 nursery children.

The second phase will add the final 12 classrooms – room for 326 pupils – and two more playrooms for 64 nursery children.

Who is in charge?

Highland Council recently appointed Craig Connon as head teacher for the new school.

Mr Connon previously worked in South Lanarkshire Council as a classroom teacher, depute head teacher, and a council education officer.

He also served as head teacher at Mossneuk Primary School in East Kilbride.

Mr Connon said that he is excited about the prospect of building a new school community from the ground up.

“Starting the school from scratch and building the team, working together to ensure the school becomes the heart of the community, is a really exciting prospect and I can’t wait to get started.”

Once the council has an estimate of attendance numbers, they will be able to begin hiring and assigning staff.

Parents in the area have received a survey asking who plans to attend the new school.

How do I enrol?

New P1 and nursery pupils can enrol in Highland Council schools between January 31-February 4.

Due to Covid-19, there is no face-to-face enrolment this year. Parents who cannot enrol online should request a paper copy from their catchment school.

Ness Castle Primary catchment map, showing an area along the east side of the River Ness, south of Holm.
The new school’s catchment area covers the Ness-Side region and the some of the southern portion of the former Holm Primary catchment.

The council sent a letter to parents with instructions about attending the new school and asking parents to make their plans known.

You can request a paper copy of the form from your school, or fill it out online here.

Council officials expect younger children (P5 and under) who are in the catchment area to attend the new school in August.

Current P6 pupils have the option to remain where they are to finish their P7 year.

Planning to attend?

If you’re planning to send your child to the new Ness Castle primary, we want to hear from you. Where do they attend now and how do your children get to school?

Will the new school make your life easier? Get in touch with us by email at schoolsandfamily@pressandjournal.co.uk

This story was updated on March 24, 2022, after Highland Council revealed delays in the construction schedule. 

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