Gaelic medium pupils Jaiden Jones and Steven Colven were joined by local Highland Councillors Drew Millar and Hamish Fraser and Allan MacLeod of Robertson Construction as they cut the turf on the site of the new £8.7 million Portree Gaelic Primary School.
Chair of the Council’s Education, Children and Adult Services Committee, Cllr Millar said: “The benefits of bilingual education cannot be argued against. Much research has been carried out on this form of education which gives our children a great advantage in life, as it makes young peoples’ brains more receptive to learning and problem solving.
“Children in Portree are very lucky to have this fantastic facility. I would like to thank Comann nam Pàrant for their efforts over the years to get us to this stage.”
Chair of the Council's Gaelic Implementation Group Cllr Hamish Fraser added: "This is a major milestone for the development of the Gaelic language in the Highlands and the Gaelic heartland of Skye. Portree Gaelic Primary School is Highland’s third dedicated Gaelic school in the region following the opening of Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Inbhir Nis in 2007 and Bun-Sgoil Ghàidhlig Loch Abar in 2015.
“I have absolutely no doubt that the new standalone school in Portree will prove a great success and nurture many more Gaelic speakers. Highland’s third standalone Gaelic School will complement Scotland’s Gaelic Primary Schools in Glasgow and Edinburgh.”
The contract is part of an overall capital investment programme of £14.8 million in Portree which included the formation of a new access road to the school, refurbishment of the former Elgin Hostel building to create a new pupil residence for Portree High. The Scottish Government has contributed £4.75 million to the school project.
Frank Reid, regional director of Robertson Northern, said: “This school will be of great value to the area and, of course, to Gaelic medium education. Today’s ceremony is an important milestone not just in the project itself, but in the progress being made in this area and we’re proud to be working with the council on this project.”
The building is programmed to open towards the end of next year.