Damp at Hawick school sparks worries for health of pupils and staff

The health of children and staff at a Hawick school is being put at risk because of a failure to replace six-decade-old windows, according to a town councillor.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 10:29 am
Updated Monday, 27th January 2020, 10:37 am
Councillor Davie Paterson at Drumlanrig St Cuthbert's Primary School in Hawick.

Hawick and Hermitage representative Davie Paterson has told of his shock and disgust after paying a fact-finding visit to Drumlanrig St Cuthbert’s Primary School at the Loan to investigate reports of an overwhelming smell of damp in every classroom.

He is now urging education bosses at Scottish Borders Council to replace outdated windows there as a matter of urgency.

Mr Paterson said: “I have to say I was shocked and disgusted at the mess of the classrooms and the distinct smell of dampness in every class room, especially in the music room, where the smell of dampness was overpowering.

“A number of staff are unhappy about the long-term health impacts.

“They should not have to teach, nor the children have to learn, in such damp conditions all day every day.

“This dampness is caused by the outdated windows in all the classrooms.

“It just can’t can’t be healthy for the kids being taught there.

“It would be interesting to have some sort of comparison between Drumlanrig St Cuthbert’s Primary regarding pupils and staff being off because Illness attributed to the dampness to figures for absences at Trinity Primary School, where new double-glazed windows were installed.

“I also visited Trinity to see the difference, and I have to say it was like night and day, and there was certainly no smell of dampness.

“I dread to think what damage Scottish Borders Council could be doing to children and teachers’ health. I’d like to see environmental health officers go into the school to assess how big the problem is.”

Mr Paterson, 65, is a former pupil of the school, opened in 1960, and he believes the current windows are the same ones that were there back then.

He added: “That just can’t be right. This dampness is in the walls and the whole fabric of the building, and you can see how black the windows are.

“The school was due to have the windows replaced in 2011-12, but the plans were dropped to go to a higher priority, but if this is endangering the kids, then I think this should be the highest priority, in my opinion.

“The cost of replacing all the windows at the school was estimated at £90,000 at that time, but it will obviously be more now.”

The council says it is aware of the issue and intends replacing windows as soon as possible.

A spokesman said: “Officers are aware of this issue and have included replacement windows within its capital programme.

“This work will be carried out as soon as is practically possible.”