Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Fire-ravaged Woodmill High School reopens to pupils

Pupils and teacher
Image caption It is hoped that all new pupils will be back in the building by August

A Fife school badly damaged by fire five months ago is reopening to most of its pupils.

Woodmill High in Dunfermline had to close after the major blaze that engulfed the school last August.

Since then, the 1,400 pupils have been attending other schools.

The fire destroyed the additional support needs unit, several classrooms and the canteen. There are now new classrooms along with others that have been refurbished.

A 14-year-old boy was charged with wilful fire-raising to danger of life following the incident.

Image copyright Euans_EP
Image caption A total of 80 firefighters tackled the blaze at the school
Image caption Woodmill High School was gutted by the fire

A total of 80 firefighters worked through the night to tackle the blaze that broke out on 26 August.

Some of the classrooms, eight science labs, three gym halls, three computing rooms, four CDT rooms and four home economic rooms were salvaged.

Back in a new classroom, fifth year pupil Melissa said: "It's good to be back and finally have a base for both teachers and pupils because it's been really hard to find your teachers - they have been going from so many different schools. It's just good to have a place where we can all come together and prepare for things like prelims.

"It has been pretty disruptive but the community has really pulled together and we were lucky to maintain our education."

Sixth year pupil Kaiya said there had been extra study support and extra homework but felt that in the long run this would benefit pupils.

"It's been strange being in different locations but it kind of feels like you're almost back home," she added.

Image caption New classrooms have been built while others have been refurbished

Head teacher Sandy McIntosh said steps had been taken to minimise the impact of the last few months.

"It's really important that we get back to business as usual," he said. "That means making sure that our pupils have plenty of opportunity to learn, they've got the right environment, the practical activities that they need to do and the additional studies support opportunities that we put in place.

"Those are things that we need to make sure are in place so that we mitigate as much as possible against the disruption that has taken place."

The older year groups will be back in the building this week and it is hoped that the first and second years will be back by Easter. The children with additional support needs will return in August.

'Amazing job'

Parent council member Shoana Smedley said teachers at the school had done an "amazing job".

"They had to split themselves between six or seven sites so they did the best they could out of a bad situation," she said. "It's so lovely to see the kids looking so enthusiastic."

Clearance and demolition work is still going on at the school, but in the coming weeks more temporary classrooms will be built.

Local councillor and chairwoman of Fife's education committee, Faye Sinclair, said the difficult period had shown the strength of the community which had raised a huge amount of money.

She added that the school would be "delighted to be back together again".

A new education campus is to eventually replace the school by 2024.

The move will see Woodmill High, St Columba's High and Fife College move to a new purpose-built facility.

The Scottish government estimates the new facility will cost between £150m and £180m.

Scottish ministers said they will invest up to £90m to fund the college portion of the campus and up to half of the cost of the new schools.

The rest of the costs will fall to Fife Council.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites