School closures: Temporary classrooms as pupils return

A classroom is lifted into place at the Royal High.
A classroom is lifted into place at the Royal High.
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TEMPORARY classrooms have been installed to cope with students displaced by Edinburgh’s school crisis as thousands prepare to return to class.

Alternative arrangements have now been put in place for all 7600 affected pupils – as well as 740 nursery children.

Survey work at Gracemount High School. Picture: Toby Williams

Survey work at Gracemount High School. Picture: Toby Williams

City leaders said an update on building repairs would be released later this week.

They admitted it had been a “huge logistical exercise” to find room for the youngsters, with extra buses brought in from as far afield as Dunbar to help with transport.

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A host of private coach firms have been enlisted to ferry children back and forth between 61 different sites. The council hopes to charge the cost back to Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP), the private consortium tasked with building and maintaining the faulty schools.

A spokeswoman said Lothian Buses vehicles were rejected due to their lack of seatbelts.

Almost 400 pupils from Firrhill High will use Edinburgh Napier University’s Craiglockhart campus and 16 temporary classrooms from across the UK have now been installed at the Royal High School.

Children in S1 to S3 were the last group to be found alternative accommodation. Those from Gracemount High will be relocated to Wester Hailes Education Centre.

Meanwhile, from Wednesday, Craigmount S1 pupils will be based in the Forrester/St Augustine’s High School campus, while S2 pupils will go to the Darroch Centre and S3s to Broughton High School.

SEE ALSO: Parents threaten to boycott plans to move pupils

Education chiefs stressed the pupils will be taught in their own class groups and by their own teachers. Today, Edinburgh Leisure will be providing a free swim to children and accompanying adults at nine of their pools across the city.

On Saturday, we revealed growing concern among parents that the long journeys to and from temporary schools could see children losing around 55 hours of education if buildings have to stay closed until summer.

Some parents at Gracemount High – where younger pupils will be taken by coach to Wester Hailes – even threatened to boycott the plans.

However, in a letter to the Evening News, Stephen Harrold, chair of the school’s parent council, wrote: “Understandably, some of our parents are unsettled and have concerns regarding the uncertainty caused by the current situation. This is heightened by lack of information due to the structural surveys not being received as yet, meaning we are all in the dark about the scale of the problem and the resulting timescale for our pupils returning to Gracemount.”

Last night, the council could not confirm when surveys into the condition of the 17 schools would be completed or when repair work could begin.

Oxgangs councillor Jason Rust said: “Parents want a clear idea as to the timetable going ahead so they can make arrangements.”

Letters – Pages 22-23