West Dunbartonshire Schools

The West Dunbartonshire Schools project involved new-build replacement facilities for three secondary schools and one primary school in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland.

A showcase for 21st Century education facilities, BAM’s work on the West Dunbartonshire Schools project demonstrated the group’s ability to deliver school buildings which make a huge and long-lasting contribution to the lives of local people.

Part of West Dunbartonshire’s "Building Our Future Schools" initiative, the project was partly inspired by the local council’s concern that the area’s communities had insufficient access to sports and leisure facilities.


It saw three of the authority’s six secondary schools and one of its primary schools replaced by modern, well designed Community Learning Centres (CLCs), incorporating an Early Education and Childcare Centre, a communications base for pupils on the autistic spectrum, and extensive sporting and community facilities.

Construction manager Iain Harris explained how BAM’s team, which included BAM Design and BAM Construct, met the Council’s objectives for improving services.

"As well as obviously improving its schools, West Dunbartonshire Council were committed to increasing the quality and breadth of sporting and leisure facilities on offer to people in the area. Once these enhanced facilities were in place, their long-term aim was to promote their use by the whole community."

The plan delivered four new-build replacement schools:

  • Vale of Leven Academy (1,100 pupils);
  • Clydebank High School (1,500 pupils);
  • St Peter the Apostle High School (1,500 pupils, accommodating the amalgamation of St Columba’s and St Andrew’s High Schools); and
  • St Eunan’s Primary School/Early Education & Childcare Centre (363 pupils & 79 pre-school children).



Iain continued: "This project really gave our team the opportunity to show how innovative they can be.

"Sustainability was particularly important – the scheme included a number of measures such as rainwater harvesting and a geothermal ground source heating system which provides sustainable heating and cooling to the schools, something which, at that time, was unusual.

"Teaching spaces were also designed to make the best use of natural light and ventilation combined with solar control glazing and lighting controls. There was also a big focus on good public spaces for pupils such as a library, dining, assembly, and theatre areas.

"Within the classrooms, our designers incorporated a teaching wall which included an interactive whiteboard, overhead projector, and in-built storage equivalent to three four-drawer filing cabinets.

"Space-saving designs like these combine storage, cutting-edge technology, and traditional whiteboards in a flexible way, which means that classrooms can accommodate a variety of teaching and learning styles."

Further evidence of the team’s creative approach could be seen from the innovative egg-shaped oratory which was an important feature at St Peter the Apostle High School.

Community use

The designs featured extensive sporting facilities which could be used out with school hours by the community for sport and leisure use.

“Each site included full-sized grass football and rugby pitches, one 3rd generation synthetic football pitch and a synthetic hockey pitch. In addition, St Peters included a synthetic running track. And, of course, all these features complemented the indoor gymnasiums, sports halls and dance studios at each school.”

Since the completion of the project, West Dunbartonshire Council has worked hard to promote community use of the new facilities through its Sports and Leisure division, and has seen a considerable uptake from local people.

Stephen Ross, PPP Monitoring Officer at West Dunbartonshire Council, said: “I worked with BAM throughout their bid, construction and operational phase for seven years and throughout this period found them to be an excellent provider and a proactive forward-thinking company.

“The management within the organisation is extremely professional, providing a first class service to the authority, at times delivering a service outwith our specification requirements.”