Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Plans for new Nairn Academy presented to public as rainwater drips into bucket in corner

Concept image of New Nairn Academy
An open-air, curated garden is one of the early highlights of the new Nairn Academy design.

Plans for the new Nairn Academy are beginning to take shape, and not a moment too soon.

That was the general feeling at Tuesday evening’s public consultation, hosted inside the current academy building.

While Highland Council officials and architects walked the audience through their vision of an energy-efficient building fit for purpose, rainwater rhythmically dripped into a bucket in the corner, driving home the urgent need for a fresh start.

And time constraints, on top of concern over building conditions, are putting more pressure on the project.

The volatility of construction costs, energy prices and inflation are working together to create a price tag that’s more like a ticking time bomb.

And the Scottish Government funding scheme tied to the rebuild comes with a firm December 2025 deadline.

New Nairn Academy to be modern, compact and energy-efficient

Reiach and Hall architect Keri Monaghan said that the new build will reduce the school’s footprint and maximise efficiency.

“Think of a building like trying to hold water in your hand,” she said. “Just like water slips between your fingers, every junction and edge in a building is an opportunity for air and heat loss.”

Early designs for the New Nairn Academy
Early designs feature a high-ceiling thoroughfare through the centre of the school, offering natural light.

And losing air means losing money, she said. Rather than the current hundred-jointed sprawl of buildings, the early vision for the new Nairn Academy is a compact three-storey structure with public and private spaces and opportunities for flexible learning and teaching.

The current design’s main highlight is a glass-ceilinged main hallway through the middle of the school. Beyond aesthetics, the layout of the school will use air circulation and insulation to cut down on the need for artificial heating and cooling.

Known as Passivhaus, or Passive House, this style of design is on the cutting-edge of energy-efficient building and becoming a staple of new builds in Highland Council.

Mixed public and private spaces

The bottom floor could house more public spaces, such as the sports hall and facilities that might be used by the public after hours. The first-floor design blends optional public and private functions, housing the library and flexible learning spaces that can be used for students or adult education.

And finally, the third floor will host dedicated staff and student workspaces, with a blend of open-plan and traditional classrooms.

The three-storey building will mix public and private spaces.

Early talks suggested that the public library could move from downtown Nairn to the new academy building.

After initial pushback from the community at an earlier consultation, designers said that there is now space for a public library at the new building – but only if the community wants it.

For now, there are no firm plans to relocate the library.

Some members of the public expressed concerns about allowing the public into any part of the school building. One audience member asked what’s to stop another school shooting like the one that rocked Dunblane Primary in 1996, or those that have cast a shadow over so many American schools in recent years.

Ms Monaghan pointed out where there would be hard security barriers between dedicated school zones and any potentially public space.

New Nairn Academy chasing ‘ambitious’ deadline

Council officials set out an opening date of October 2025.

One audience member said that she had concerns over the timing of the project.

With the project still in design phase, she said she doesn’t see how it can meet that target.

Estate strategy manager Robert Campbell said that while there is still a chance for the initial £42.14 million project to get more expensive, he believes the council can meet the ‘ambitious’ deadline.

The layout of the new school is meant to maximize natural light and keep a smaller footprint than the current school.

Which they’ll need to, if they want to remain eligible for crucial government funding.

As part of the Scottish Government’s Learning Estate Investment Plan, the new Nairn Academy is eligible for funding paid out over 25 years. Highland Council is responsible for funding the rebuild up front. Future payouts from the government are tied to certain criteria:

  1. The council must keep the building in A or B condition for 25 years.
  2. The school must meet the programme’s energy efficiency criteria (f 67/kWh/sqm per year for core facilities during core hours).
  3. The school must support and promote digital learning.
  4. During construction, the project must promote support for a certain number of new jobs, based on the level of investment. For the current £42.14 million investment, the project will need to create 15 new jobs to qualify for full funding.

For most of the criteria, funding is based on a sliding scale, meaning the council will receive money based on how close they come to each objective.

The council needs to finish the school by December 2025 to be eligible for any payments.

Read more from the Schools and family team

Autistic author writes children’s book to help others feeling rejected

Teachers in Scotland to vote in strike ballot as union condemns ‘insulting’ pay offer

Video: Dedication and commitment pays off for Highland students