Children and staff at Aberfoyle Primary School have spoken of their joy after their historic school building reopened last Monday (17 May) following an estimated £1.3 million refurbishment.

The major investment saw the remodelling and renovation of the 151-year-old building and a vacant adjoining school house to provide additional learning space.

All four classrooms are now located in the main school building and have been transformed into modern, bright and fully equipped learning spaces. 

Happy to be back home

After a busy but productive first week, headteacher Maxine Barwick said: “It has been amazing to have all the children back in the school, working away and learning together.

“The building is bright and modern, but still feels like the primary school we all know and love so I’m delighted to get the first week under our belts and see all the children happy to be back home.

“Obviously there are still Covid restrictions in place so we’re looking forward to having the building fully re-opened to families and the community as soon as possible and we’ll do our best to have a proper welcome back for the people of Aberfoyle.”

The Council worked closely with a conservation architect and the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Planning Authority to ensure sympathetic restoration and refurbishment of the structure, which dates back 1870.

The main works at the school, which has a capacity of 100, were due to start in spring 2020 but were delayed until last summer due to the first Covid-19 lockdown.

Modern and fulfilling learning environment

Convener of Stirling Council’s Children and Young People Committee, Cllr Susan McGill said: “The reopening of Aberfoyle Primary is fantastic news for the pupils and staff at the school.

“While the character of the building has been carefully preserved, the school has been transformed into a modern and fulfilling learning environment which will help children achieve their potential.

“I can’t wait to see the refurbished school at first hand, and I’m sure everyone at the school is looking forward to settling back into their new and improved surroundings during the rest of the summer term.

“We know it’s been a disruptive period for families and staff as the works were carried out, and I’d like to thank them for their patience and understanding.” 

Entering the school at the repurposed school house, there is now a welcoming new entrance, along with offices, meeting spaces, staff accommodation and other ancillary spaces, before heading into the main school building.

The new main entrance is also now fully accessible and inclusive for all users, while significant building fabric improvements will also cut the carbon footprint of the building with full replacement of the slate roof, upgraded insulation and new efficient heating emitters and controls.

Highest possible standard

Vice Convener, Cllr Christine Simpson said: “The extensive refurbishment of Aberfoyle Primary School has been completed to the highest possible standard and the new start-of-the-art learning spaces will provide significant educational benefits to children and support staff in the delivery of the curriculum.

“The completion of this ambitious project will give a new lease of life to this building which was starting to show its age, ensuring it is fit for 21st century learning and teaching.

“The major investment also underlines Stirling Council’s ongoing commitment to invest in its school estate to improve learning facilities and reduce carbon emissions.”

Since February 2020, children and staff had been hosted at McLaren High School in Callander for face-to-face learning.

Background info and picture details:

Aberfoyle Nursery was refurbished during the summer 2019 as part of the expansion of free early learning and childcare.  This included internal remodelling and targeted refurbishment of the annex building, resulting in larger playroom spaces, additional ancillary facilities as well as improved external grounds. 

Aberfoyle PS was identified as one of the five major investment education infrastructure priorities that were approved on the basis of building condition and suitability by Stirling Council’s Children and Young People Committee in Sept 2018.

Pictures show children from Aberfoyle PS outside the refurbished school alongside headteacher Maxine Barwick.