New education campus in Renfrewshire for CrossReach

CrossReach, the Church of Scotland's social care arm, has announced ambitious plans to open a "first class" education campus in Renfrewshire.

Local Schoolchildren with CrossReach chief executive Viv Dickenson with children and families director Sheila Gordon1
CrossReach chief executive Viv Dickenson and children and families director Sheila Gordon with school pupils at the groundbreaking

It said the new development in Erskine will provide a high standard of education for around 30 looked after children, aged 8-16-years-old.

The campus is being delivered by Portakabin Scotland and comprises of modular buildings, which will be built off-site and craned into position in April.

CrossReach chief executive, Viv Dickenson, broke the ground at the site at Erskine Waterfront to formally start the building work.

She said it was an "exciting day" for the Church's social care arm, which provides cradle to the grave services across Scotland, employing more than 2,000 people and scores of volunteers.

CrossReach, one of the largest social care providers in Scotland, has been providing residential care and education for children, who for various reasons cannot live with their families, for over 25 years.

CrossReach chief executive Viv Dickenson with Gregor Hood regional hire manager for Portakabin in Scotland
CrossReach chief executive Viv Dickenson with Gregor Hood, regional hire manager for Portakabin inScotland

Over the last four years, there has been a move away from CrossReach's larger care and education provision at Geilsland School in Beith, Ayrshire and Ballikinrain School near Balfron in Stirlingshire to a model of smaller community houses, which will be clustered round a central education hub.

Mrs Dickenson said: "This is an exciting day for Crossreach as work commences on our new education campus at Erskine Waterfront.

"Our existing staff team and their pupils are looking forward to moving into bright, modern classrooms containing all the facilities they need to make it a first class learning environment.

"We have been delighted with the welcome already extended by the local community and look forward to building on the good relationships already in place as we develop the outdoor areas and explore ways of working together."

CrossReach is leasing the ground, opposite the Pandamonium Play Centre on Kilpatrick Drive, from Renfrewshire Council.

It is expected to take possession of the campus at the end of May.

Members from Crossreach Portakabin Teachers and Local Schoolchildren prepare to break the ground on the new build
Members from Crossreach, Portakabin, teachers and local schoolchildren prepare to break the ground on the new build

The existing education team and pupils will move from their current base in Ballikinrain to the Erskine site in August for the start of the new school year.

Alongside a standard curriculum, CrossReach provides a range of arts and outdoor and sporting activities for the children and young people who attend, including "Forrest School", which is a way of promoting learning using the natural environment outdoors.

The social care provider hopes to work with local community groups to develop the green space around the Erskine site for the benefit of all.
The ground breaking event was attended by pupils, teachers, CrossReach staff and representatives from Portakabin Scotland.

Gregor Hood, regional hire manager for Portakabin Scotland, said: "We're delighted to be working with Crossreach to provide a modular solution at Erskine.

"Portakabin has been building nurseries, schools and colleges across Scotland for 30 years.

"The building will provide a supportive and safe environment for up to 30 children and young adults within the local community.

"Constructed entirely off-site, the modules will be delivered and craned into position in April of this year.

"This is a process which will take a matter of days, reducing much of the disruption which would normally come with a traditionally constructed build."