Galashiels Academy staff in plea to save the ‘extension’

Frightened staff at Galashiels Academy have issued a heartfelt plea to Scottish Borders Council to ditch its plans to demolish the RoSLA extension building this summer.

Thursday, 28th May 2020, 12:42 pm
Galashiels Academy's extension building, which is due to be demolished this summer.
Galashiels Academy's extension building, which is due to be demolished this summer.

Known locally as just “the extension”, the building has been a part of the secondary school for more than 40 years, housing classes for the likes of home economics, technical drawing and mathematics.

When Peebles High School was closed in November due to a fire, the building housed some of its pupils, with the Galashiels staff temporarily relocated to the main building, where the classrooms were shared with a hot-desking system.

When the Peebles pupils went back, and with a new Galashiels school on the horizon, it was decided by the council that the Academy could indeed manage without the extension and staff were informed that it would be closed permanently.

Now, with schools set to reopen in August as coronavirus lockdown measures are relieved, staff say it will not be possible to properly socially distance pupils and teachers in the main building.

One member of staff, who we have agreed not to name, said the teachers were informed a fortnight ago that plans were still in place to demolish the extension, despite the fact that it would indeed help in the tough task of socially distancing pupils.

Our source told us: “Academy staff were told a couple of weeks ago to prepare for moving rooms over the summer to make way for extension staff.

“Now we’re told that we have to ensure social distancing measures for when pupils return in August.

“I can’t believe they are going ahead with the extension plan.

“It makes it harder to social distance with maybe 20 extra teachers and classes crammed into the main building.

“It makes me a bit scared ... I feel the council is putting profit before safety.”

However, it appears the council may be rethinking its options.

This week, a Scottish Borders Council spokesperson told us: “The council is reviewing all of its options across its entire operational estate, including schools, to assist with our on-going Borders-wide response and recovery to COVID-19.

“This includes a review of buildings which were previously planned for demolition over the summer period including the RoSLA building at Galashiels Academy.

“Once the review is concluded, we will be able to explain any changes to our current plans.”

With the new school building stalled due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the school’s staff will be hoping that the plans to close the extension are indeed scrapped.