HISTORY was made this week as the newly built £69million super-school The Barony Campus opened its doors to students for the first time ever.

Secondary students were the first in attendance at The Robert Burns Academy segment of the campus.

Pupils of the Cherry Trees Early Childhood Centre, Hillside School and Lochnorris Primary School and Supported Learning Centre will begin next month, Wednesday, November 18.

The new campus has been heralded as a game-changer for the area, with the state-of-the-art sporting and teaching facilities on site said to be some of the best in the country.

One student who was there on Monday for the historic occasion said that there were some nerves on his first day, but that’s to be expected.

Not only was it 11-year-old Lochlan Murdoch’s first day at The Barony Campus, it’s also his first year in secondary school, having previously been in attendance at Cumnock Academy before the move.

Lochlan said: “I really enjoyed it, it went really well. It was a lot different [from Cumnock Academy], it was weird because you don’t normally see buildings that nice in Cumnock.”

Lochlan said that staff and students alike were both exhibiting some nervous excitement and that there was a real buzz about the place as he went about his first day.

Cumnock Chronicle: Lochlan in his Barony Campus uniform.Lochlan in his Barony Campus uniform.

Lochlan’s mum Lesley Murdoch said that the parents she knew with children at the school were all a bit anxious over the move.

Lesley’s concern was that, with it being Lochlan’s first year in secondary, that trust would have to be rebuilt.

After having just a few months at Cumnock Academy, to be suddenly uprooted was somewhat like starting again.

But she said that Lochlan had a fantastic time and that the opening of The Barony Campus was a great success.

Some have likened the mergers of Auchinleck and Cumnock academies to the Berlin wall coming down, such has been the hostility between pupils of these two schools over the years, but there weren’t any reports of incidents yesterday.

The police were in attendance at the campus to oversee the transition to the new build.

A spokesperson for East Ayrshire Police said in a social media post: “The Robert Burns Academy welcomed student from across the area today marking the first day of the new learning facility.

“This is a momentous

occasion and is being supported by local officers assisting in the smooth start at the school.

“Good luck to all the students and teachers.”

Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of the Council and Councillor Fiona Campbell, Spokesperson for Skills and Learning visited the Campus on Tuesday (October 27) evening, following strict Covid-19 measures, to view the new facilities and speak to the young people from The Robert Burns Academy and secondary Supported Learning Centre.

Councillor Reid said: “The excellence of the Barony Campus reflects the Council’s ambition to provide state of the art educational facilities for all and I am so proud that the young people of The Robert Burns Academy are now able to enjoy their new school.

“That a project of this size and complexity was delivered with just a three month delay, arising from lockdown, is credit to Morrison Construction and the Council’s project delivery team, led by Depute Chief Executive, Alex McPhee. This team has literally been working day and night, in challenging conditions, to ensure that the school was ready to welcome our young people and I would like to thank them on behalf of the Council.

“I would also like to thank our local contractors who worked on site and the contractors that employed local people during the build process; these include Character Joinery, Johnston Joiners, D&D Decorators, MacGregor Flooring, Castle Building Services, Malcolm Group and WVB.

“Part of the Council’s team are still on site and are now working to ensure that Lochnorris Primary School and Supported Learning Centre, Cherry Trees Early Childhood Centre and Hillside School will be ready to open on Wednesday 18 November.

“I have to be honest; this isn’t how we envisaged the official opening of The Robert Burns Academy. We wanted to join with parents, carers and the local community to share the excitement and the pride we feel towards the facility and our young people. As soon as we are able, we will hold a celebration event worthy of this incredible Campus.

“Until then, a passport to the Barony Campus and a short video is available on our website so that you can visit the Campus virtually and find out more about the facilities.”

Councillor Fiona Campbell said: “The Barony Campus will ensure that our children and young people will have every opportunity to achieve their full potential. The educational facilities are exceptional, utilising the very latest technology including Scotland’s first interactive and immersive video room.

“The new Campus offers an unprecedented level of sports provision, including two full sized, flood-lit synthetic pitches of world class rugby standard, which are open for school, sports club, and public use; a 400m 4-lane running track, two full sized grass pitches, a 7 aside floodlit synthetic pitch and an outdoor basketball court, together with 13 indoor courts in various configurations, including a dance studio.

“Community recreation space will include an enterprise kitchen and community café, meeting rooms, a 550 seat auditorium, recording studio, music practice rooms and project space for textiles/crafts and pottery. This facility is going to be life changing for our children and young people, as well as for our communities, and is designed to help them to realise their dreams.”

Peter Gilchrist, Head of the Barony Campus said: “What a superb opportunity we have with the opening of the Barony Campus. The Campus effectively brings together children and young people from the whole of the south of East Ayrshire and the benefits to their learning and their self-confidence can’t be underestimated.

“I have no doubt that the Barony Campus will become the beating heart of our community and the excitement and wonder we saw from our young people when they set foot in the new school this week was brilliant to see and really brought the building alive.”