WORK is officially under way on the creation of a new primary school for Wallyford.

Pupils from the existing primary school were joined by Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP at a ground breaking ceremony yesterday (Wednesday) to celebrate the start of construction work on the new school.

The project, part of the new St Clements Wells development on the outskirts of the village, has an overall budget of £18.9m. 

East Lothian Council has secured a grant of £4.5m from the Scottish Government’s Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme.

Mr Swinney, who is cabinet secretary for education and skills, attended the ceremony with officials from East Lothian Council, Hub South East, Morrisons Construction and Scottish Futures Trust.

The new school, which will replace the existing school building at Salters Road, will initially provide 28 classrooms, as well as 120 pre-school places. 

The building, to the south of the village, also includes resources for wider use by the community and has been designed to provide access to the library, sports and other non-teaching facilities. 

A further phase to be developed later could see the expansion of the school for an eventual primary and pre-school roll of more than 1,300 – one of the biggest primary schools in the county.

Mr Swinney said: “At the outset of our Schools for the Future programme in 2009, we originally aimed to build or refurbish 55 schools across Scotland – we have now more than doubled that commitment and it is great to see work getting underway on increasing numbers of these projects, including Wallyford Primary School which will be a fantastic addition to the local community. 

“This is part of our aim to provide our children and young people with inspiring environments which enable all of them to engage with their learning and I look forward to seeing this project when it is completed.”

Councillor Shamin Akhtar, the local authority’s spokeswoman for education and children’s services, said: “It will meet the learning and teaching needs of generations of early years and primary-aged children well into the future. 

“I’m really looking forward to watching the progress of the project and to seeing the school welcome pupils. 

“This project is part of a wider investment by the council in almost £100 million of new or expanded schools throughout East Lothian over three years.”

Fiona Robertson, head of education at East Lothian Council, was “delighted” to see work on the new school get under way.

She said: “The results of the consultation that was undertaken in 2016 showed that parents and carers were overwhelmingly supportive of the proposal to relocate the school to a new site. 

“A new school and facilities will not only provide the best learning environment possible for local children, but it will also benefit the local community.”

Hub South East, East Lothian Council’s Development Partner, is delivering the project and has appointed Morrison Construction as the contractor. 

The new school should be complete early in 2019.

Paul McGirk, Hub South East’s Chief Executive, added: “It’s exciting to reach the key milestone of construction – making the plans for a new Wallyford Primary School a reality. 

“This is a significant investment in education for our partner, East Lothian Council, and we look forward to working together to ensure that staff will have a new modern, fit-for-purpose learning environment, whilst local residents will be able to enjoy new community facilities such as a games hall and library.”