New Paisley Grammar School milestone £85.5m project breaks fresh ground

Nine people in high vis jackets standing at the new site of Paisley Grammar School
-Credit: (Image: Renfrewshire Council)

Construction work is now underway at the new Paisley Grammar School – with some of the pupils set to attend 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 £85.5 million project is being delivered by Renfrewshire Council and is supported by funding from the Scottish Government’s learning estate improvement programme. Main contractors Morrison Construction have been on site since March delivering groundworks to prepare the land for the main building work, which will go on for two years.

The ground-breaking ceremony was conducted by 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 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. She 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 such as a 300-seat theatre, fitness suite, dance studio, makers space, kitchens, drama studio and music suites;

■Support a range of ways to learn and teach, with open spaces for group work;

■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, and 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 roll of just over 1,000. Renfrewshire Council’s director of children’s services Janie O’Neill, above right, was on site to help break ground and added: “It was a pleasure to 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.”

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. Last month, the Express told how costs linked to the construction are already threatening to spiral by millions of pounds.

The state-of-the-art development, which will be built on land next to the former Chivas administration building in Renfrew Road, will replace the ageing secondary school in Glasgow Road.

But, against a challenging financial backdrop, the budget for the major project will now rise from £75.1m to £85.5m amid “growing inflationary pressures”.

A report to full council explained this will result in increased borrowing costs of £500,000 per annum – £300,000 of which is expected to be funded through Scottish Government learning estate investment programme allocation.

The local authority 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.

Don't miss the latest Renfrewshire headlines – sign up to our free daily newsletter here