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First Minister announces new Peterhead campus amid billion-pound school spending plan

The first minister flew into the north-east yesterday to unveil a £1billion spending plan for new schools across Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon was joined by her deputy John Swinney at Peterhead Academy as she announced that a long-awaited new campus for the Aberdeenshire town would be included in the first phase of the scheme.

The announcement has been welcomed by local politicians, parents and pupils – who told her that the existing building is “tired”.

Nicola Sturgeon and Reagan Stephen, 9.<br />Picture by KENNY ELRICK

The first minister explained that the new Peterhead campus would replace the academy, Dales Park Primary, Meethill Primary and the Anna Ritchie School for children with additional needs by bringing nursery, primary and academy education together under one roof.

She said: “This is good news for Peterhead and many other towns across the country.

“It builds on the progress we’ve made over the past decade or more, and will mean the next generation of young people in Peterhead will be learning in a new school building.

“The new building will have up-to-date technology and will be much more able to provide the kind of education young people need and deserve.”

Aberdeenshire Council has set aside £71m to invest in the new campus, which will include a 1,400-capacity secondary school and a new 600-capacity primary.

The top politicians were welcomed to the school by pupils including 17-year-old Leah Garland.

Leah said: “We told the first minister that most of the building is tired, but the newer bits are lovely.”

Local Tory councillor, Alan Fakley, applauded the announcement but vowed to hold the government to account to make sure the school is built on time.

He said: “This is an excellent story for Peterhead, especially for our children.

“But it is now the duty of the local councillors, parent teacher councils, parents and the people of Peterhead to hold the Scottish Government to account to see that this campus is built as soon as possible.”

Pupils learning about wind farms.<br />Picture by KENNY ELRICK

Head girl Caitlin Anderson and head boy Scott Christie, both 17, took Ms Sturgeon and Mr Swinney on a tour of the academy.

Scott said: “It is good for the school itself, and for the community, that the new campus is included in this investment.

“People often hear bad things but it’s a good school with good teachers, so it will be good to have a new campus for future pupils.”

Aberdeenshire Council voted to allocate £71 million towards the replacement facility last February.

Last May, it emerged that repairs were needed to the existing school’s roof, drainage, electrical system and ceilings to keep it open.

There were concerns that paying for repairs to the Prince Street site could set back the community campus scheme by a decade.

But weeks later those fears were set aside as council officers launched studies to determine the best location for the replacement.

Earlier this year, councillors agreed on the perfect spot for the campus building at Kinmundy.

The government has confirmed it will plough between £220m and £275m into creating a first tranche of 26 new schools, with further waves of investment to be announced within 12 months.

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