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New £32.5m Bertha Park School Handed Over

Scotland’s first brand new secondary school in more than 25 years is set to open next month following completion of construction work.

Bertha Park High School is a £32.5m project led by hub East Central Scotland on behalf of Perth & Kinross Council with Robertson serving as main contractor.

Located on the northern outskirts of Perth, the school is unique in that it is an entirely new school and not a replacement of an existing one. Part of the Scottish Government’s Schools for the Future programme, Bertha Park will eventually accommodate up to 1100 pupils – with around 200 S1 and S2 pupils due to start the 19/20 school term.

Construction work began in November 2017, with Robertson building state-of-the-art facilities, including a sports hall, gym, full size grass and synthetic football pitches as well as a multi-use games area.

Technology lies at the heart of Bertha Park, which is one of only 17 schools across the globe – and the only one in the UK – selected as part of the Microsoft Flagship Schools programme. The US giant has lent their expertise to the school, advising on how to make the most of technology to improve the learning experience for pupils and give staff increased flexibility with delivering the curriculum.

Kevin Dickson, Managing Director, Robertson Tayside, said: “Bertha Park is set to be one of the most advanced schools not only in Scotland but across the UK and beyond. Partnership working has been crucial to delivering this state-of-the-art facility and Robertson has been privileged to serve as the main contractor.

“The built environment can have an enormous impact on the education experience and while our work is now complete, we are genuinely excited to see how the story of the school unfolds. We wish all pupils and staff the very best and have no doubt they will thoroughly enjoy their time at Bertha Park.”

Gary Bushnell, Chief Executive, hub East Central Scotland, said: “We have worked closely with all of the stakeholders involved in this unique project to manage it to successful completion. Bertha Park is the sixth school delivered by our team at hub for Perth & Kinross Council and is built to the highest standard, creating a unique digital-learning centre of excellence in the most contemporary environment.”

Councillor Caroline Shiers, Perth & Kinross Council’s Lifelong Learning Convener said: “This is an exciting time for us as we look forward to Bertha Park High School opening its doors to the first group of pupils following this partnership with hub East Central Scotland and Robertson.

“The development of the brand new school is an important part of the Council’s programme to transform the school estate in Perth and Kinross and enable it to deliver a high quality environment for learning and teaching into the future.”

Meet the Buyer Event Perth

Businesses interested in bidding for work on hub projects in Perthshire can find out more about planned initiatives at a special Meet the Buyer event at Perth City Hall on Friday 21st June from 9.00am to 1.00pm.

The event is a joint initiative between hub East Central Scotland, BAM Construction and Perth & Kinross Council and aims to provide as many opportunities as possible for the local business community.

Attendees will have access to information about planned projects, including the Perth City Halls and the proposed Blairgowrie Recreational Centre.

The event is free to attend and there is no need to register. Anyone who is unable to attend the session and would like to register an interest can do so by contacting Claire Anderson at


Arbroath primary schools project reaches key milestone

The creation of a £14.1 million shared campus for two Arbroath primary schools reached new heights at a topping out ceremony on site.

Construction of a state-of-the-art shared campus for Hayshead Primary School, St Thomas RC Primary School and an early years facility is well underway on the playing fields of the existing Hayshead school.

Michael Matheson, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity joined others at today’s ceremonial event in signing the final section of roofing before it was lifted into place.

Among them were children from both schools, with Jane Webster, Depute Head Teacher of Hayshead Primary School and Jackie Wilson, Head Teacher at St Thomas RC Primary School.

Also in attendance was Angus Council’s Children and Learning Convener, Cllr Derek Wann, as well as fellow local councillors, council officials and representatives from hub East Central Scotland, who are managing and delivering the project; main contractor Robertson Tayside; and Scottish Futures Trust.

Mr Matheson said: “The new, state-of-the-art Hayshead Primary School and St Thomas’ RC Primary School shared campus will benefit generations of pupils, teachers and staff for years to come with a specifically-designed learning environment that the whole community can be proud of.”

“The Scottish Government is committed to improving Scotland’s school estate and we are providing £5.8 million towards the project through our Scotland’s Schools for the Future building programme.”

The new shared campus will include dedicated flexible teaching spaces to accommodate both schools, including classrooms, activity spaces and group tutorial rooms. It will provide shared accommodation, including multi-purpose halls, general purpose rooms and a campus library.

The early years facility on campus will be shared by the existing St Thomas and Hayshead nurseries and there will be a dedicated Playgroup area.  The campus has been designed to be fully inclusive to those with additional support needs and includes a multi-sensory room.

The campus will also provide dedicated community facilities. Externally, there will be two grass sports pitches, together with outside areas to support external learning initiatives and bespoke spaces for early years and children with additional support needs.

With the countdown well underway, children and staff are expected to move in to their new surroundings in February 2020.

Children and Learning Convener, Councillor Derek Wann said: “It is marvellous to see another major milestone reached in the Arbroath Schools Project and the progress being made on the delivery of this exciting new shared campus and early years facility for Hayshead and St Thomas.

“With an extensive range of modern fit-for-purpose learning spaces and community facilities, this state-of-the-art campus will be a fantastic seat of learning and serve the community well for generations to come. I for one cannot wait to see the children and staff move in to their new surroundings early next year.”

Gary Bushnell, Chief Executive, hub East Central Scotland said: “It is great to see the new school campus taking shape.  The construction programme continues on schedule and we look forward to managing the successful delivery of another high quality education facility for Angus Council that will serve the community for years to come.”

Kevin Dickson, Managing Director, Robertson Tayside, said: “We are making significant progress with the construction programme at the new shared campus in Arbroath. It was a pleasure to welcome key stakeholders to the site for the topping out of the building and to show the fantastic work which has taken place since construction began. The modern learning environment we are building for Angus Council will be first class and be hugely beneficial for pupils, staff and the wider community and we look forward to the completion of the new building early next year.”

Gemma Boggs, Education Delivery Director at the Scottish Futures Trust, said: “Our management of the Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme is helping all of Scotland’s 32 councils succeed in delivering the very best teaching and learning environments.

“As well as supporting many thousands of construction jobs, the programme is creating and delivering world-class, award-winning learning environments that not only meet future educational needs but are vibrant community assets as well.

“When open next year, the shared campus for Hayshead and St Thomas RC Primary Schools and the early years facility will play a vital part in the local community, with many facilities available for locals to use.”



Attendances have been high at unique series of education workshops for local authorities across the hub East Central Scotland region featuring one of the UK’s most influential academics in the field, Professor Stephen Heppel.

The initiative is the brainchild of hub’s strategic services team and part of its #placesforlearning programme to help educations teams and schools develop new thinking and solutions to transform performance and learning.

The hub team delivered 6 workshops across the region with 5 local authorities.  The events were also supported by Space Strategies, Architecture and Design Scotland and Scottish Futures Trust. Over 50 pupils took part in the workshop sessions in Dundee and Clackmannan.

Stephen Oswald, Project Director, Strategic Services, hub east Central Scotland said: “We created our #placesforlearning initiative to support the development of educational spaces beyond the boundaries of traditional schools as we consider lifelong learning campuses and how to create the best possible environments for learning. Stephen Heppel’s insight, expertise and enthusiasm at the events has been a real catalyst for change, inspiring everyone who attended to look at learning in new ways that will benefit our communities and help young people to reach their full potential.”

hub’s strategic services team works closely with public sector partners across the region to develop new ideas, initiatives and ways of working that will enhance community services across the region.

Ingredients for transforming the performance of schools

Speaking at hub East Central Scotland’s unique #placesforlearning event, Professor Stephen Heppell, one of the UK’s most influential academics in the field of education and technology, outlined his thoughts on a range of ingredients for transforming the performance of schools and other learning institutions:

Around the world the pressure on schools for improved performance grows. Because children deserve the very best chance at learning, this is not unexpected.

Each school, community and their contexts are unique and will create a unique “recipe” from these “ingredients”.

Taking a cue from Olympic sport, with its philosophy of seeking each and every available marginal gain, there are a number of very effective, proven, research confirmed and backed approaches, that can each make a significant difference.

Each carries its own real gains, but the sum of these parts will add up to very considerable improvement. As schools implement some or all of these components, there is a demonstrable co-dependency and consequent “multiplier” effect. In simple terms, the more the better.

Obviously other well documented ingredients contribute too: leadership, fellowship, collegiality, resources, community, stability, families, ingenuity, creativity, a grounded curriculum, teachers who like children… all contribute too. But these days they are nothing like enough.


The temperature, CO2 levels, noise (including noise rhythms), light levels, humidity, air pressure and pollution levels (e.g. pollen) all impact significantly on student concentration, retention, alertness and more.

Engaging the learners’ voice

There are now many carefully documented performance improvements from giving the learners ownership, engagement and just better input into making learning better. Crucially though, this is not about just asking for the learners’ opinions, it is about engaging them habitually as researchers and valuing their research. Student voice is now integral to many approaches

Stage not Age

From Piaget to Plowden the sense that children move in stages is (rightly) never qualified by the need for those stages to be related to age, although arguably stages may be sequential. Stage not age simply allows learners to proceed a pace suited to their own progression. That is easy to say, but complex to implement initially.

Stage not age, with a careful eye to social maturity too, demonstrably combines the best progress with better engagement

Multiple points of focus

There are a lot of reasons why so many learning organisations have dropped their single-point-of-focus with its teachers’ desks and whiteboard, laying out their learning with multiple points of focus. Observed gains include an equity of learning experience, greater engagement, teachers themselves making better professional progress, better student / teacher dialogue and relationships, greater diversity of teaching and learning approaches, and much more.


This is much misunderstood. Play within an educational institution is not just about taking time out from learning for healthy mind development. Some nations, and many educational philosophies embrace play, rightly, as engaging, important for wellbeing and more, but play also has a more complex, and increasingly understood cognitive contribution to make.


Importantly, these are not the old open plan classrooms of the 70s and 80s. Superclasses house more than one class, with, as a consequence, more than one teacher. Three is typical, with up to 90 children. The teachers work as a team, but splitting tasks between them and specialising.

Project based learning

Project Based Learning can underpin the curriculum delivery at all levels. Research is broad and consistent in saying that because of the emphasis on student autonomy, collaborative learning, and with on-going assessments based on authentic performances, PBL reliably maximizes students’ orientation toward learning and mastery. There are other significant cognitive gains too.

Cognitive gains

In the last decade or two we have learned so much more about how the brain works, about what assists memory, and about how to make learning more effective, and progress more impressive.

A good example of the impact of all this is the outburst of writeable surfaces now found in so many of the best schools, from state schools in the toughest areas, to Eton’s recent Tony Little Centre for Innovation and Research in Learning.

Recent cognitive research speaks of the spatiotemporal scaffold in our brains that supports our autobiographical memory and it does seem that big writeable walls help locate memories in time and place more vividly that a copied version, or a worksheet might.


If you ask practically any school learner about the school toilets they will be dismissive: “hideous”, “dangerous”, “scary”, “filthy” and so on.

In terms of research data this translates into higher levels of absence, a sense of disaffection and of never being listened to amongst the learners and some considerable behaviour issues – bad children hang out in bad toilets.

The data is horrifying: published research by Lundblad and Hellström from Göteborg University, in the Journal of School Health found perceptions of school toilets as a cause for irregular toilet habits among schoolchildren aged 6 to 16 years. In 2005 they found that 25% (overall 16%) of older children reported NEVER using the school toilet to urinate, and 80% (overall 63%) never used it to defecate. Thus, even a slight tummy wobble becomes a day off school, rather than attend and face the toilets.

Building better toilets is very straightforward and many schools have done it. Typically, their “better” toilets have these features: door than fit with no gaps for prying eyes or cameras, a single contained cubicle (often described as airline toilets), unisex, used by staff as well as learners, multiple locations so that using the toilet is convenient rather than a major disruption, easy-to-clean, bright decor.

Probably most important of all, if you improve the toilets, with learner design input, they will know that you really are a listening organisation and will engage better. Plus, the toilets will be better too!

Stephen Heppell is Professor at Bournemouth University, Chair in New Media Environments, Emeritus Professor Anglia Ruskin University and Visiting Professor University of Wales, Newport.

Kinross Primary School Opened

Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary John Swinney MSP officially open the new Kinross Primary School, providing modern, state of the art education facilities for local children.

Kinross Primary School has been part of a multi-million pound programme jointly funded by Perth & Kinross Council and the Scottish Government, as part of the Council’s wider investment in the school estate in Perth and Kinross.

Mr. Swinney said: “My thanks to Perth & Kinross Council for the opportunity to officially open the new state-of-the-art Kinross Primary School, which learners, staff and the whole community can be proud of.

“It is great to see the Council’s continued commitment to their school estate and I am pleased that the Scottish Government has been able to support these projects through our £1.8 billion Schools for the Future programme which will see 117 schools replaced or refurbished by March 2020.”

Perth & Kinross Council Lifelong Learning Committee Convener Councillor Caroline Shiers said: “The construction of the new Kinross Primary School has transformed the learning and teaching environment for pupils and staff.

This project is a key element of our work to maintain an effective school estate into the future and was undertaken as part of a £55million programme jointly funded by the Council and the Scottish Government.

I am delighted that the school community has settled well into its new surroundings and that we can celebrate its official opening today. Our overall investment programme of £175m for the school estate reflects the importance we place on learning in Perth and Kinross. ”

Kinross Primary School Headteacher, Pauline Smith commented: “The building of the new school has already made a real difference for our children and staff and we are looking forward to highlighting what a fantastic school we have!”

Gary Bushnell, Chief Executive, hub East Central Scotland said: “We worked closely with the team at Perth & Kinross Council to manage the project to build the new school to successful completion. It is great to see the pupils and staff enjoying their new school, which provides an excellent modern learning environment and is the fifth that we have delivered for the Council.”

The new Kinross Primary School has increased pupil capacity for 566 children, with dedicated nursery provision for 85 children. 18 open-plan teaching zones sit alongside a dedicated gym hall and separate dining facilities within the school. External facilities have also been transformed with a grass pitch, Multi Use Games Area (MUGA), outdoor teaching facilities and eco-features, as well as improved pupil drop-off facilities and enhanced parking.




The Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries has been recognised once again with the SPACES Award for Civic Building of the Year along with the Heritage Award.

SPACES is the Society for Public Architecture, Construction, Engineering and Surveying and its awards are the only ones solely dedicated to rewarding excellence and innovation in construction projects delivered within the Public Sector.  The awards are not purely about design but also recognise the importance of team play and delivering a project that meets the brief on time and budget.

The latest awards follow some other prestigious recognition for this project, completed by hub last year. Earlier this year it was named Best Building in Scotland by the Royal Incorporation of Architects Scotland. Designed by Richard Murphy Architects, the distinctive building has also been recognised with awards from the Edinburgh Architectural Association and RICS Scotland.

The museum adjoins the world’s first Carnegie library and includes a striking new glass structure. It incorporates three exhibition galleries, café, local history space and children’s library over two floors.

Work started in December 2014 and Fife Council committed £8.25 million to the project, along with £2.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £1 million from the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust.

The work involved building a new extension at rear of retained listed façade providing museum and gallery space together with refurbishment work to the existing library.


Work is now underway to construct a new health centre for Doune and the £2.7 million development is expected to be operational in 2019.

The project is being delivered by hub East Central Scotland with Hadden Group as the main contractor.

The new health centre replaces a smaller building which has become overcrowded due to the growing population of the village. It will see a wide range of services delivered locally. These include physiotherapy, podiatry, counselling and could include services to support people with long term conditions such as diabetes, dementia and COPD (a common respiratory disease).  In addition, there will be more opportunities to help patients improve their own health by providing extra support and advice on diet, exercise, managing medicines and giving up smoking.  Also included are improved facilities for the existing GP Practice as well as accommodation for a range of visiting outpatient and services such as antenatal and child health clinics. Around £200,000 is being invested in new equipment, furniture and fittings.

Alex Linkston, Chairman, NHS Forth Valley, said: “This new healthcare facility will provide improved accommodation and facilities for patients and staff and make it easier for people to access a wide range of care and support in their local community.”

Gary Bushnell, Chief Executive, hub East Central Scotland* added: “We have worked closely with NHS Forth Valley throughout the development of this project and  it’s great to reach this important milestone which sees work now starting on site. We look forward to delivering a high quality medical centre that is designed and built to meet the needs of the community it will serve.”

Scott Hadden, Chairman, Hadden Group commented: “We’re pleased to have been appointed by hub East Central Scotland and NHS Forth Valley as the design and build contractor and are looking forward to our construction team getting underway to deliver a modern healthcare facility for Doune.”


A young trainee site manager had the honour of handing over the keys for the new Bellfield Centre, marking the completion of another hub project.

Kieran Day, a 21 year old trainee with Robertson, was one of hundreds of construction staff involved in building the flagship Centre which forms part of the new £37m Stirling Health and Care Village.

The new Centre will provide short-term care, assessment or rehabilitation for older people who require additional support following an illness or operation. Services will be provided in a warm, welcoming and comfortable environment to help older people recover, regain their independence and, in the majority of cases, return to their own homes.  The Centre, which will have the capacity to care for 116 people across 4 short-stay areas (Thistle, Wallace, Argyll & Castle Suites), will also provide support for people with dementia and those who need palliative or end of life care. In addition, it will have a café, hairdresser, retail space, landscaped areas and a multipurpose area which can be used by local community groups and volunteers.

Considerable efforts have been made to ensure the new purpose-built facility meets the needs of older people, including those with dementia. Architects have used the surrounding landscape to create a feeling of wellbeing, introduced social areas to encourage greater interaction and used specific colours and design features to help wayfinding.

Key design features include:-

  • Green spaces – a village green, landscaping with new planting and trees, therapeutic courtyard gardens, roof terraces enclosed with special safety balustrades which offer access to outdoor spaces and fresh air from upper floors, raised planters for gardening and walkways to nearby woodland.
  • Entrance plazas and social areas, including communal dining areas, to encourage greater interaction and provide spaces for gathering and activities.
  • Design and wayfinding – en-suite rooms to maintain dignity and privacy which can be adapted to suit individual needs, use of colour, contrast, signage, acoustics and lighting to support wayfinding and  create a stimulating, warm and comforting environment
  • Inside spaces with reminiscence and memorabilia resources

Shiona Strachan, Chief Officer of the Clackmannanshire and Stirling Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “The number of people affected by dementia is set to double in the next 25 years and it is estimated that, at any one time, up to one in four people undergoing short stay assessment will experience some form of dementia. It is with these figures in mind that we have worked closely with the architects to make sure that this important new development is designed to be dementia-friendly at every level to help meet the increasing demands of an ageing population and set new standards for dementia friendly design.”

The handover of the keys marks the completion of the build phase and will enable health and council staff to fit out and equip the care areas, offices and communal areas over the next few months. Services will then transfer across from existing inpatient wards at Stirling Community Hospital and a number of short-term care and assessment facilities run by Stirling Council.

The Bellfield Centre will be the second new facility to be completed on the Care Village site as the new GP & Minor Injuries Centre and local ambulance station opened in August 2018. The remaining ambulance vehicle workshop is scheduled for completion in 2019.

Alex Linkston, Chair of NHS Forth Valley, said: “This is a fantastic new facility which will provide light, bright and comfortable surroundings to help people recover, regain their independence and, in many cases, return to live in their own homes.”

Stirling Council leader, Councillor Scott Farmer said: “This new centre will make a significant contribution to the development of local health and social care services in Stirling. Great work has gone into its design to provide a sensitive and caring environment where we can deliver the necessary care for local service users.”

Gary Bushnell, Chief Executive, hub East Central Scotland, said: ”We have worked closely with all of the partners involved to successfully complete the construction of the new Bellfield Centre on time and on budget. We are delighted to deliver such a high quality facility which has been built to meet the specific needs of patients and staff and also support the delivery of first class care in Stirling.”

The new Stirling Health and Care Village is a joint venture between Stirling Council, NHS Forth Valley, the Clackmannanshire and Stirling Integration Joint Board and the Scottish Ambulance Service. Forth Valley College is also involved including plans to offer local young people a range of training and volunteering opportunities within the new Health and Care Village.

The Village will also support the integration of local health and social care services, making it easier for staff to work together to deliver better co-ordinated, more joined up care to local people – a key aim of the Clackmannanshire and Stirling Health and Social Care Partnership.

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