Opening of £41m Portobello High School delayed

The opening of the new high school has been delayed. Picture: Toby Williams
The opening of the new high school has been delayed. Picture: Toby Williams
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THE opening of the new Portobello High School is set to be delayed by four months.

Senior staff at the secondary – Edinburgh’s largest – said contractors Balfour Beatty were having difficulty securing a “drainage connection” with Scottish Water.

Pupils were due to move into the £41 million campus in August, but this is now likely to happen in January next year.

Construction of the school, which will replace the ageing 1960s building on Duddingston Road, was delayed for six years because of a long-running row over whether it should be built in Portobello Park.

City leaders were eventually forced to lodge a Bill at the Scottish Parliament to ensure the project could proceed.

Boasting a swimming pool and two all-weather pitches, the new complex will have space for around 1400 pupils.

In a letter to parents, headteacher Ruth McKay said: “I am writing to advise you that unfortunately the opening of our new school will be delayed.

“Our contractors, Balfour Beatty, have informed us that they are unable to meet the planned completion date that would have allowed us to move in to our new school in August 2016.

“This is mainly due to an issue with securing a drainage connection with Scottish Water.

“Work is ongoing to resolve the issue. However, in the meantime we are planning on the basis that we will move into the new school in January 2017.”

News of the delay came after it emerged late last month that bad weather had delayed the opening of the new Boroughmuir High for a second time.

Ms McKay said there was a possibility that the Portobello move could happen in October if snagging issues were resolved quickly.

She said: “The later entry date will allow for orientation visits for both staff and pupils before the new school opens.

“It will also allow our new S1s, currently P7, to settle into the routine of secondary school before they have to get used to the new building and we will be developing specific plans to support the transition for them.

“Our plans to commemorate our current building are not affected by this development. We will share further details on the school website in the coming weeks.”

Tom Ballantine, chair of the Portobello High School Parent Council, said: “Of course parents will be disappointed at any delay but, some of us having had the opportunity to see the new building today, the main feeling remains one of excitement that our young people and the wider community are getting such fantastic facilities for this and future generations.”