Pupils return to Balfron High School after partial closure

NEARLY 450 S1 to S3 pupils were due to return to class today at a multi-million pound PFI high school which had to be close because of safety concerns.

Balfron High School was partially closed due to safety concerns. Picture: Emma Mitchell

Balfron High School in west Stirlingshire was partially closed last month after two safety issues were discovered in the building.

Pupils from S1 to S3 were bussed for lessons to three high schools in Stirling - St Modan’s, Wallace and Stirling High - on a 40-mile round-trip.

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A repair programme has been agreed aimed at bringing the school back into full operation by the start of the new term in August.

Meanwhile, a so-called “teaching village” of 12 temporary classrooms has been created at the 900-pupil school, and they are now ready for use.

In a letter to parents, headmistress Elaine Bannatyne said: “I am pleased to inform you that we are a little ahead of schedule for our return to Balfron Campus and are now in a position to return on Friday, June 3. This means that S1-3 pupils can move on to their new timetable (S2-4) for one day prior to the seniors returning on Monday, June 6.

“I am delighted to have this extra day as it provides the space to ensure that our younger pupils are fully inducted (in terms of) movement, fire evacuation, curriculum and timetable when the school is less busy.”

Mrs Bannatyne said catering would be served from a marquee to be erected on campus and there would also be sandwich bar at the front of the school to alleviate queues.

Senior pupils, many of whom have been taking exams or on study leave, are due to return to the school on Monday.

Checks were carried out on the school following the collapse of a wall at Oxgangs Primary, Edinburgh, following a storm in January.

Independent contractors inspecting Balfron High found “a suspicious wall movement”.

Problems escalated in May when the decision was taken to close parts of the school because of problems in a stairwell and atrium.

Stirling Council said the those problems were not immediately apparent when the checks were carried out earlier in the year.

Since then scaffolding has gone up in parts of the building and work to tackle the problems at the 15-year-old PFI school, built at a cost of £18 million, has continued.

Mrs Bannatyne told parents: “Please note that building repair work will continue to take place throughout the June term and through the summer holidays. We plan to be fully returned to our building at the start of the new term in August.”