South Scotland

Peebles High School fire damage 'pretty horrendous'

School fire damage Image copyright Scottish Borders Council
Image caption Mr Swinney said some parts of the high school looked "completely redundant"

About a third of a school hit by fire appears "completely redundant" according to the deputy first minister.

John Swinney visited the Peebles High School site which has been shut until at least Christmas following the blaze.

Plans are in place for its 1,300 pupils to return to face-to-face teaching at various locations by Monday.

Mr Swinney, who is also education secretary, said the school's condition was "pretty horrendous" and everything would be done to help.

Image copyright @1Rigz
Image caption Fire broke out in the school on Thursday

A fire broke out at the Scottish Borders secondary on Thursday prompting its evacuation and closure.

An investigation into the cause is still ongoing.

The high school will remain shut until the new year and pupils have been using online learning tools at home this week.

Arrangements have been made for senior students (S4-S6) to return to the classroom - in Galashiels - from Monday.

Younger pupils will be taught at other sites in Peebles.

'Serious situation'

Image caption Mr Swinney said firefighters had worked "astonishingly hard" at the scene

Mr Swinney was taken on a tour of the site to see the scale of the "very significant damage" for himself.

He paid tribute to the efforts of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service who had worked "astonishingly hard" to salvage as much of the school as possible.

He also praised staff, pupils and the community for working with Scottish Borders Council to find a way out of the "very serious situation".

"I've also been discussing with the council what are the next steps forward because quite clearly there is going to have to be significant redevelopment of the Peebles High School site," he said.

'Significant operation'

Image copyright Scottish Borders Council
Image caption The deputy first minister said much of the building looked beyond repair

"It's a pretty horrendous sight to be honest about a third of it looks like it's completely redundant as a consequence of the fire," he added.

"Another third is significantly damaged and another third is probably perfectly usable providing all of the essential services and supplies are intact."

He said there was a "significant operation" in the short term to provide education which was set to start on Monday.

"There will have to be a medium term approach taken which is about ensuring that there is a restoration of education provision on this site if at all possible," he said.

"Then obviously there has to be a longer-term solution and the government will engage with SBC in every aspect of that recovery."

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