CALDERWOOD Lodge Jewish Primary School became part of history on Wednesday morning.
The opening day of term of its new shared £17 million campus with St Clare’s Primary is thought to be the first time a joint Jewish and Catholic shared faith facility has existed in the world.
The faith schools’ joint campus in Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire, opposite Mearns Castle High School, is now home to two schools and the non-denominational Calderwood Nursery.
East Renfrewshire Council Education and Equalities convenor Councillor Paul O’Kane said: “We are committed to delivering the very best education for all our children and young people, so I am delighted to see these new facilities now open.
“While both St Clare’s and Calderwood Lodge will benefit from the fantastic individual learning environments, it is the shared areas which most excite me.
“By sharing ideas and knowledge, all our pupils at this new joint campus will enjoy an enriched learning environment.”
The campus includes a shared central amphitheatre and outdoor obstacle trails. There are two sports pitches, ICT facilities, art, science, music and drama areas and a kosher kitchen for Calderwood.
In addition, ERC has spent £30m on a new Barrhead High School and £9 million on an extension and upgrade at Crookfur Primary and Nursery.
Calderwood headteacher Marion Carlton is impressed with the new building.
She said: “The design of this fabulous new campus has been based on feedback from parents and representatives from both faith communities and I know it will provide us with a fantastic learning environment.
“It will give excellent opportunities for shared learning and interaction among all the pupils and staff.
“Bringing together these two faith communities on one campus is creative and innovative and I have no doubt we will all reap the benefits from this approach.
“We are all so excited about getting started in our new home.”
St Clare’s headteacher Anne Marie Absolom was equally excited.
“The bringing together of these Catholic and Jewish primary schools on a single campus is a momentous initiative,” she said.
“It delivers a powerful message to the wider community that two different faiths can work in close co-operation while retaining their own unique identity.
“It’s an exciting venture that East Renfrewshire can rightly be proud of.
“We are looking forward to both schools working closely together to the benefit of our children and the wider community.”
An early visitor to the new building was Calderwood chaplain Rabbi Moshe Rubin.
Rabbi Rubin said: “As I was putting up the mezzuzot on the classroom doors, there was a feeling of the amazing opportunities the new state-of-the-art school has to offer to develop further its Jewish ethos.
“There is a sense of excitement and commitment from the headteacher and all the staff to create that special atmosphere that is unique to Calderwood Lodge.
“These are great times for our community.”
He added: “I also met Ms Absolom and I felt that there is a tremendous amount of respect between the two schools.”
Glasgow Jewish Representative Council co-president Nicola Livingston told the Jewish Telegraph: “The school is at the very heart of the Jewish community and we were pleased to have been heavily involved in this exciting project.
“We would like to thank ERC for their innovative approach and vision in recognising the importance of Scotland’s only Jewish school and investing in the lives of our children.”
Fellow co-president Evy Yedd added: “Today was a very special day not only for the pupils and parents but also for Scottish Jewish people, as Calderwood Lodge is the jewel in the crown of our community.
“I have been involved as a parent and a member of staff since 1979 and know that the school will continue to provide the best secular and Jewish curriculum within a happy, caring and loving environment, underpinned by Jewish values.
“I am proud to be associated with Calderwood where every child, from many backgrounds, is nurtured so that they will achieve their full potential.”
East Renfrewshire pupils at Calderwood Lodge will continue to transfer to Mearns Castle High School, their current associated secondary school, and St Clare’s will be associated with St Ninian’s High School.