Netherthird Primary School and Early Childhood Centre are officially opened by Lord-Lieutenant of Ayrshire and Arran
Former Netherthird Primary School pupil and school Dux, Lord-Lieutenant of Ayrshire and Arran, Sheriff Iona McDonald officially opened the new Netherthird Primary School and Early Childhood Centre recently at a special ceremony.
The state of the art two-storey school, which is a key part of the Council’s 10-year plan to improve the school estate, was built on the site of the old school by Kier Construction, and opened to children and young people in February this year; while the Early Childhood Centre was built and completed by Graham Construction three years ago.
The school has nine classrooms, a nurture room, supported learning spaces, a family hub, a combined assembly, games and dining hall, and outside there are specially designed outdoor learning zones, a large covered external learning space and soft and hard landscaped play areas.
All the children and young people from the school and children from the Early Childhood Centre joined Lord-Lieutenant of Ayrshire and Arran, Iona McDonald, Leader of the Council, Councillor Douglas Reid, Councillor Elaine Cowan and Depute Lord-Lieutenant Eric Ross to perform the official opening with Head Teacher Jemma Donnelly, Elena Whitham, MSP; local elected members Councillors June Kyle, Jim McMahon and Neill Watts; Councillor Maureen McKay and representatives from Kier Construction and Graham Construction.
After the plaque was unveiled by the Lord-Lieutenant with young people and children from the school and the Early Childhood Centre – the whole school performed ‘We’re in our new home’. The lyrics written by Mrs Hill and P6 to the tune of McFly’s ‘It’s all about you’ and covered their journey to their new school. It ended with the line ‘Our happy ever after’, which was really heartfelt! P6 then performed their poem, ‘Transitions’ which focused on their journey to their new school and being ‘back where they belong’.
The invited guests then took a tour of the school and Early Childhood Centre and also visited Netherthird Community Garden, where they were welcomed warmly by Maggie Campbell who spoke about the importance of the outdoor space for the children and young people.
Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of the Council said: “I was really pleased that former Netherthird Primary School pupil and school Dux, Lord-Lieutenant of Ayrshire and Arran Iona McDonald accepted our invitation to officially open the new Netherthird Primary School and Early Childhood Centre.
“This new state of the art school is a key part of the Council’s ten year plan to improve the school estate, while the Early Childhood Centre is part of our extensive building programme to ensure that our youngest learners benefit from the best possible start to life through the delivery of 1140hours.
“We visited the school the day after it opened to our children and young people back in February and we couldn’t believe the way everyone seemed so at home so quickly. It is clear that the school is a positive learning environment where children can thrive and through its clever design active, outdoor and creative learning are part of everyday school life.
“The team that delivered this project; Miss Donnelly and our teaching staff deserve the highest praise for ensuring that our children and young people have the very best high quality education and facilities.”
Sheriff Iona McDonald, OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of Ayrshire and Arran said: “I was really delighted to be asked to officially open Netherthird Primary School. In 1959, my brother was one of the first pupils to attend the new state of the art Netherthird Primary and I started in 1960. I have such fond memories of life at Netherthird Primary and my wonderful teacher Miss Smith who was inspirational and fun. This was a time when there were 40 children to a class but Miss Smith kept order with great fairness and firmness. My brother and I were both school Dux and I was so delighted to see the Dux Board again with our names in gold, it meant so much to me.
“My ties to Nethethird Primary run very deep. I believe my father Councillor Thomas P McIntyre officially opened the original school in 1959. Cumnock History Group have been assisting with finding out more, East Ayrshire Leisure are also providing support and the Cumnock Chronicle has also generously offered to search their archives, which is incredibly kind.
“The ethos of Netherthird Primary focused on the whole child, of ensuring that children and young people had full and rewarding lives. After visiting the school, many, many things have changed but not this ethos. It is evident that the whole school team are entirely committed to the children and young people and that their wellbeing and their education is of the utmost importance to them.
“Education is a passport to anywhere you want to go in life. There are no boundaries to success and I believe that our children and young people can go out and change the world for the better. As Nelson Mandela said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Head Teacher Jemma Donnelly said: "This was such a special day for our school and our community. Iliana and Eve from P7, did a wonderful job welcoming all of our special guests and we all felt particularly honoured that former pupil, Lord Lieutenant of Ayrshire and Arran, Sheriff Iona McDonald performed the official opening.
"Our school is now back in the heart of our community and we are now working alongside our partners and friends again. It has been an emotional journey but it was all worth it. Our children and young people absolutely love our new school and all our fantastic spaces and resources.
"It is an honour and privilege to lead Netherthird Primary School and ECC. I can’t wait to see where the next part of our journey takes us to."
Phil McDowell, Regional Director for Kier Construction North & Scotland said: “Netherthird Primary School has such a strong legacy in the community, and this new state of the art school will ensure that Netherthird Primary can continue to educate and nurture children for generations to come.
"We have used our extensive experience and expertise in delivering modern educational facilities to deliver a vibrant learning environment, and we are very proud of that. Our collaboration with the Council and the local community has been key to the success of the project and we look forward the children enjoying their new space to the fullest.”
East Ayrshire Council has worked with Kier Construction previously on the William McIlvanney Campus in Kilmarnock.