Pupils now back at fire-hit Peebles High School

Peebles High School is now back in action following the fire in November that left part of it in ruins, forcing classes to be held elsewhere in the town and in Galashiels.

By Darin Hutson
Monday, 3rd February 2020, 2:09 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd February 2020, 2:34 pm
Peebles High School headteacher Campbell Wilson and Scottish Borders Council chief executive Tracey Logan with senior pupils today.
Peebles High School headteacher Campbell Wilson and Scottish Borders Council chief executive Tracey Logan with senior pupils today.

Older pupils, in years S4 to S6, returned to the Springwood Road site today, February 3, with younger ones, in years S1 to S3, set to follow suit tomorrow.

Pupils classed as having complex needs will continue to be taught at the specialist facility at Galashiels Academy.

Peebles High headteacher Campbell Wilson said: “To be able to welcome pupils back to Peebles High School this week is fantastic, and I’d like to pay tribute to the patience, resilience and positive attitude of pupils, their families and my staff while temporary teaching arrangements have been in place.

Senior students in one of the new modular classrooms at Peebles High School.

“The support from the school community, particularly the parent council, and beyond has been overwhelming, and we are all extremely grateful for that and also the understanding of the local people and groups displaced from their normal venues.

“We are now fully focused on settling back in as quickly as possible and providing all subjects in the best possible settings in a remarkably short period of time considering what has occurred.

“From today, it really is business as usual for us all, and we look forward to wider discussions in due course about the future of the school.”

Scottish Borders Council chief executive Tracey Logan was also at the school today to welcome pupils back, and she said: “As the first pupils return to the school today, I just want to acknowledge the exceptional support offered to both the school and the Council since the fire on November 28. I want to convey my thanks to them all.

Fire damage caused to Peebles High.

“Assistance and offers of support of all kinds came flooding in from the local community, businesses, our partners Live Borders and CGI and other local authorities.

“The past two months have been an extremely challenging period for all concerned with the school, and I am delighted that we have managed to be in a position to have the pupils back on site so quickly.

“That has only been possible thanks to an enormous amount of work and the support provided to us, and, of course, the outstanding work by firefighters over several days to contain the fire and minimise the extent of the damage.”

A parent council spokesperson added: “I cannot thank the staff of Peebles High School and Scottish Borders Council for all they have done for our young people since the devastating fire at the end of November.

“It has been a magnificent effort all round, and we are indebted to the local community for rallying to the various calls for help throughout this difficult period.”

The future of the 1,300-pupil school is now being weighed up, and plans to have a £128m replacement for the current building open in 2032, as previously pencilled in, are being reconsidered as part of a £100,000 appraisal of options agreed in December.

Ms Logan added: “An options appraisal is being undertaken to evaluate all potential options for the long-term future of the Peebles High School site.

“The appraisal will be used to support future consultation with the Scottish Government, which has indicated its support for the council in achieving the best possible final outcome.

“It is anticipated that the appraisal will be complete before the Easter break.”

The council has also put in an insurance claim following last year’s blaze.