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Tain 3-18 Campus: How we got here

Tain 3-18 campus
Locals could see signs of construction in the coming months. Here's what we know about the Tain Community Campus so far. Drawing by Stallan Brand

This week, the long-awaited new school for Tain has been top of the council and public agenda.

In a good news/bad news scenario, the new plans for the Tain 3-18 campus were unveiled.

The development was welcomed – but many voiced concerns at the lack of an on-site swimming pool.

Here, we recap the story so far and answer the questions that explain how we got here.

Tain: Everything you need to know

With a “cutting-edge” design and promises of an eco-friendly campus, Tain 3-18 Campus has a lot on offer for the community.

Community members may have to wait a bit longer for the biggest item on their wish list–a new swimming pool–but there’s still hope for future additions.

Architects are balancing that disappointment with new sports facilities, community centre and library on campus.

And all of that is on top of much-needed new homes for Tain Royal Academy (TRA), St Duthus School, Knockbreck and Craighill Primaries.

Locals could see signs of construction in the coming months.

Tain 3-18: How much and when?

This week, Highland Council’s north planning committee unanimously approved plans for the new Tain 3-18 Campus. Like most projects in the works, you might hear it called by different names. Tain Community Campus is a common one, or you may know it as the future home of Tain Royal Academy.

But for consistency, we’ll stick with Tain 3-18 Campus.

The project is estimated to cost £45 million and councillors are expecting the campus to be ready to open in August 2024.

The project’s original timeline listed April 2022 as a potential start date for construction. But with the plans only just approved at the end of April, it will be later in the year before work begins.

Where will it be?

The education committee had previously approved a campus back in 2015. Those original plans placed the campus on the site of the current Tain Royal Academy.

But those plans were scrapped in 2018 after public consultations revealed people weren’t happy with the site.

Instead, the new Tain 3-18 Campus will take the place of the current Craighill Primary School. The site will have access via Craighill terrace.

The primary school will remain in operation until the new campus is finished.

Sneak preview of the proposed layout

Project architects Stallan Brand provided a simulated fly-by of the proposed Tain 3-18 Campus, which shows how it nestles into the hillside.

What’s on campus?

The campus will rehome the area’s four local schools and add new shared resources for the community.

Some of the campus highlights include:

  • Nursery for approximately 88 pupils
  • Primary School provision for approximately 380 pupils (replacing Craighill and Knockbreck Primaries)
  • Secondary school for approximately 540 pupils (replacing existing Tain Royal Academy)
  • Space for Gaelic pupils
  • Specialist school provision (ASN) for approximately 24 pupils (replacing St Duthus School)
  • Three sports pitches (two turf, one grass) and three multi-use game areas
  • Parking lot with 134 staff parking spaces and 78 pick-up/drop-off spaces
  • Community event spaces
  • Library
Supplied by Stallan Brand

The Tain 3-18 Campus grounds will also feature curated landscaping to encourage outdoor learning and provide a buffer of green between the campus and the community.

Outdoor features include:

  • Woodland and growing garden
  • Willow dens
  • Timber trails
  • Nest swing
  • Wheelchair roundabout
  • Outdoor amphitheatre

The building design also has a green tint–figuratively speaking. It’s set to be built according to ‘passivhaus’ standards, meaning it will be so energy efficient it will barely need heating.

If successful, the campus would be the first of its kind in the Highlands.

What’s missing?

Despite the plethora of features on the new campus, there’s one thing that residents are still hoping to see: a new swimming pool.

Early plans for the Tain 3-18 Campus did include a community pool. But last spring, disappointed residents learned that the project had space for a pool–but not enough money.

Designers promised that there was room to add a pool in future phases of construction, and local councillors are exploring their options. 

But for now, it will be business as usual for swimmers. High Life Highland will keep the current pool open at Tain Royal Academy.

Why do we need the Tain 3-18 Campus?

Students and residents have been adamant for years that the local schools needed an upgrade.

A spotlight shone on the situation in 2019, after the original site plans were scrapped and it seemed like the project would be sent into limbo.

Filmmaker Rhys Campbell teamed up with High Life Highland’s Rob Parkes and pupils from Tain Royal Academy (TRA), Knockbreck Primary and Craighill Primary to create a video that illustrated the problems their schools were facing.

Lack of IT support, leaky roofs and duct-taped stairwells were just the tip of the iceberg.

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