Construction work starts on new Paisley Grammar School Community Campus

Date Posted: 19 Jun, 2024

Construction work is now under way on a new modern home for Paisley Grammar School – with some of the pupils who will attend the new building on hand to help ‘break ground’ on the project.

The new Paisley Grammar School Community Campus will be a state-of-the-art facility which will replace the existing school, due to open by August 2026, on vacant land near the town’s Renfrew Road.

The £85.5m project is being delivered by Renfrewshire Council, supported by funding from the Scottish Government’s Learning Estate Improvement Programme.

The new campus is being built within the site of a wider development which will transform transport links in the north of Paisley and help create safer access to the school.

Main contractors Morrison Construction have been on site since March delivering groundworks to prepare the land for the main building work, which starts this week and will last for two years.

The ground-breaking ceremony was conducted by some of the current S1 to S3 pupils, who will be among the first young people to move into the school when it opens.

S3 pupils Grace Christie and Niamh O’Toole said: “It was exciting to see what we’re moving into. We liked how clean it looked and are looking forward to having sports pitches right there.”

And their classmates Surbjeet Singh and Adam Walker added: “It looks like it’ll be very interesting to explore. We are excited about the football pitches as well.”

They were joined by Paisley Grammar School head teacher Janice Levens, who added: “For us as a school this will open up so many opportunities. When you come on site and you see the space you start to get excited.

“We love the building we are in, and it has a lot of history attached, but it isn’t modern enough, so we can’t wait to get into this new one. We’re looking forward to the sense of space we will have here, both inside and outside the building.”

Once complete the new school will:

• offer outdoor facilities not possible on the current Paisley Grammar site, including two full-size sports pitches (one 3G and one grass), plus outdoor learning and social spaces
• include modern facilities for practical subjects including a 300-seat theatre, fitness suite, dance studio, makers space, teaching kitchens, drama studio and music suites
• support a range of ways to learn and teach, with open spaces for group work as well as traditional classrooms
• have facilities for the wider community, such as meeting rooms and flexible learning spaces
• meet high standards for energy-efficiency and building performance.

The location of the building also allows a close partnership with the neighbouring West College Scotland campus, with potential to expand the range of subjects on offer to pupils. The school will be able to hold up to 1,380 pupils, well above the current school roll of just over 1,000.

Renfrewshire Council’s Director of Children’s Services Janie O’Neill was on site to help break ground and added: “It was a pleasure meet some of the young people who might be among the first to benefit from this new school, and it’s exciting to think about what it will offer once complete in two years’ time.

“The old Paisley Grammar building has served generations of pupils well for more than 100 years but the needs of learners and teachers have changed – and the new school will be purpose built to meet them.

“Not only will it be an energy-efficient building with state-of-the-art facilities for sports and practical subjects and 21st-century learning and teaching, but it will be an asset for the whole Paisley community, who will be able to use those facilities out of school hours.”

David Ewing, Managing Director for Morrison Construction Building Central, said: “As a leading contractor in the education sector, we are delighted to work again with Renfrewshire Council and Scottish Futures Trust on the delivery of the new Paisley Grammar School Community Campus.

“It’s great to see work commence in earnest and we look forward to delivering this high-quality facility that will make a positive contribution to the local community.”

The school was design by leading architects Ryder Architecture. Chris Malcolm, partner at Ryder, said: “We are delighted to see that the collaboration and engagement with the project team and stakeholders has continued through to construction.

“The design clearly expresses the collective educational vision for the new Paisley Grammar School Community Campus, and the new learning spaces that it will create are going to be sustainable, exciting and inspirational for its users.”

Safe access to the new school will be delivered through ongoing work by the council to improve transport links in the north of the town and better connect Paisley town centre and the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS) at Glasgow Airport. That will include:

• a new bridge over the White Cart linking Inchinnan Road with Harbour Road, and a new east-west road linking the bridge with Renfrew Road, from which the school will be accessed
• new safe walking and cycling routes, including a pedestrian and cycle underpass under Renfrew Road built on the route of a former rail track, linking the new school with the south of Gallowhill and the east of the town.

The community campus will be built behind the vacant former Chivas administration building, but this will not be part of the new school.

The council is currently proactively marketing the former Chivas building to find a new owner and use, and will do the same to help find a new owner for the current Paisley Grammar School site when it becomes vacant in 2026.