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St David's Primary School

Category: Schools

The contractor is very efficient and problems are dealt with quickly. Consequently I have more time to do my job compared with the old school where, if I had a maintenance problem,  I would spend half my day trying to arrange for someone to sort it out. However now, there's a lot of people there to help.

Isabel Agnew, Headteacher, St David's Primary School

May, 2009

St David's Primary School, in Plains near Airdrie, is part of the £170 million North Lanarkshire Schools PFI Project which reached financial close in June 2005.

The original St David's was built about 50 years ago and in recent years had become well past its best. The new school, which was constructed on a different site, opened its doors to pupils in November 2007. St David's, which shares the new building with Plains Primary School, provides a state-of-the-art teaching and learning environment.

Isabel Agnew, who arrived at St David's as Headteacher in August 2003, was interviewed by the PPP Forum to find out what she thinks about her new PFI school.

How did the construction process go?

As the new school was built on a different site from the old, we weren't affected very much during the construction process. However people from the construction contractor came over on a regular basis to speak to staff and children about how things were going and gave us photographs of each stage of the construction process. 

How would you compare the new school with the old?

The old building, constructed about 50 years ago, was built as a junior secondary school with a primary department.  However the secondary school was only there for ten years, before being moved to St Margaret's in Airdrie and leaving the building for the sole use of  the primary school.  Consequently the building was big, but had past its best by the time we left it in 2007. The new school on the other hand is bright, modern and attractive and is a joy to come into in the morning. Each of the schools within the North Lanarkshire Schools PFI Project have their own design; there's no two that are alike, and we have a nice indoor garden feature. 

There was a lot of vandalism at the old school. It was on the outskirts of the village and became a place for people to congregate at night because they wouldn't be disturbed. This is less of a problem at the new school as it's in the middle of the village.

Initially some of my teachers had issues with the open plan layout of the new school, but these now appear to have been resolved.

How was the move into the new school?

It was a hectic time and my teachers worked extremely hard to box up everything from the old school and unpack in the new building. Pickfords and Haden were very helpful in this process and worked hard to ensure that we were ready on time in the new school.

In recognition of all the hard work we did, the Council gave us some money to spend on an in service day for the staff.

How is the operating stage going?

The contractor is very efficient and problems are dealt with quickly. Consequently I have more time to do my job compared with the old school where, if I had a maintenance problem,  I would spend half my day trying to arrange for someone to sort it out. However now, there's a lot of people there to help.

We have had a problem with temperature control, with it being sometimes too hot and sometimes too cold, however the contractor has been responsive and the problem appears to have been resolved.

What do you think of PFI?

I think we're very fortunate to have the school that we have, and am impressed by the efficiency of the contractor.