Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

School closure pupils could miss at least 55 hours of lessons

Royal High
Image caption Preparations are under way to accommodate pupils in temporary classrooms at the Royal high School

Pupils affected by the school closures in Edinburgh will miss at least 55 hours of lessons if they remain decamped until the summer.

Pupils are spending an hour a day being bussed to alternative schools, clocking up five lost classroom hours per week.

However, some pupils could miss up to three times that amount as their buses pick them up as late as 09:55.

Seventeen school buildings were closed last week amid safety concerns over structural issues.

Parents said they were "concerned and worried" about the lost time.

Conservative councillor Jason Rust, whose Fairmilehead and Colinton ward has three schools that have been closed, told the BBC Scotland news website he had been receiving 20 calls a day from worried parents.

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He said: "Parents are saying they are concerned about the travel time eating into the school day.

"The travel time is quite a bit to miss out on.

"An hour's travelling time each day means five hour a week and 55 hours from now until the summer. That's a lot of lost education.

"Some parents had suggested moving the bus times to before school hours so that classroom time was not lost but I think it was thought the children would be exhausted by lunchtime."

Construction defects

A City of Edinburgh Council spokeswoman, said: "Following discussions with head teachers, we decided that whenever possible we should place pupils in other schools which are well equipped for their needs to ensure continuity of the pupils' education.

"The relocation of pupils and their teachers has been a huge logistical exercise for the council and has involved 61 alternative schools and the use of over 80 buses for pupils, sourced from companies in the Lothians.

"These arrangements are of course temporary while we get a clearer picture of the issues across the affected schools and we will continue to keep parents up to date with information as it is confirmed.

"Whilst we understand and share parents concern about any missed or delayed class time, as we keep the situation under review, we will revise the arrangements and make adjustments accordingly."

Every student affected by the closures will be able to return to school on Tuesday.

Alternative arrangements have now been put in place for 7,600 primary and secondary school pupils.

The City of Edinburgh Council said accommodation has also been found for 740 nursery children.

Wall collapse

Pupils at five secondaries, 10 primaries and two additional support needs schools were unable to return to school after the Easter break as a result of the closures.

A series of inspections revealed construction defects at all 17 schools built under the PPP1 project.

The problems, identified after a school wall collapsed, relate to missing ties used to support building walls.

Some students returned to school last week.

One parent of a girl in her third year at Craigmount High School called for an independent inquiry into the closures.

Image caption Parent Carole Couper said a "transparent" investigation needed to be held into the school closures

Carole Couper said: "What I don't want is to see any more spinning from government officials or from politicians on an issue that has impacted on the education of our children.

"The main thing is to clearly investigate what has happened, independently, transparently and also to give us a clear idea of what went wrong so that we can learn from that and make sure it doesn't happen ever again."

Parent Leona McCready, who has two children at one of the schools affected, said the closures had caused "absolute chaos".

She told BBC Scotland: "Everyone's just annoyed - upset that the school was allowed to be opened in the first place when the contractors knew it wasn't safe to start with.

"It's worrying that these people are willing to put kids in unsafe buildings from the word go."

And Wendy Clark, whose son is at St Joseph's Primary, said many pupils were now making long journeys to alternative schools which was eating into lesson time.

She added: "Maybe the councils should think about keeping the schools open for two weeks or three weeks of the holidays to compensate and let the kids catch back up to what they've missed."

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