Built to impress

4th December 2009 at 00:00

It is the size and space of Denny High that impresses. Its heart is a central meeting and eating area, with towering windows and a ceiling that soars. The scale and light are more reminiscent of New York's Grand Central Station than the cramped, dingy dining halls of old. The only part of the school that many feel is too small and dark is the staffroom.

Pupils say the central core is a place where they enjoy passing time, that there are fewer fights and they can walk down the corridor without anyone barging into them.

Representatives from the Scottish Futures Trust have been to visit, and are using Denny High as a model of good practice for other authorities. There is a widespread feeling that Falkirk has got a better deal than other parts of Scotland. Here, the driving ambition has been bigger and better schools. Elsewhere, it was modernising what schools already had: if there wasn't a swimming pool, don't expect one in the new-build.

Denny head Stephen Miller agrees that NPDO seems "the best of all worlds", creating a school that would not have come about through capital expenditure alone, via a charitable venture that dilutes reservations about private profit.

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