PFI Balfron High School pupils moved into temporary accommodation

Balfron High School was closed because of safety concerns
Balfron High School was closed because of safety concerns
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A SO-called “teaching village” of temporary classrooms is to be created at a multi-million pound PFI high school which has been closed because of safety concerns.

Balfron High School in west Stirlinghshire was partially closed earlier this month after two safety issues were discovered in the building.

Pupils from S1 to S3 are currently being bussed for lessons to three high schools in Stirling - St Modan’s, Wallace and Stirling High.

Senior students are on study leave, with SQA exams being held in parts of the building which are unaffected.

In a letter to parents, headmistress Elaine Bannatyne said that it was hoped that all lessons will be held at Balfron again from the start of next month.

READ MORE: Structural problems force partial closure of Scottish school

She said: “We are working closely with colleagues from Stirling Council on a plan to bring a temporary teaching village onto our campus. Plans are looking towards having everyone for Monday June 6 to begin the new timetable as planned.”

Pupils were off school for much of last week after checks found an issue with the wall of the stairwell and additional problems in the atrium. From Friday, they were bussed to the three schools and Mrs Bannatyne said that the system had been working smoothly so far.

She said: “I appreciate that it is frustrating for some to travel beyond their home to get to Balfron just to get a bus back again. However, we would really appreciate your support in sticking with the decision to start and finish at Balfron High. Adding stops or changing arrangements would make the travel back slower and more complicated to manage.

“I know that keeping it simple, though frustrating for some, is helping things run smoothly and to plan. This is a temporary arrangement, so your patience is much appreciated in helping us manage transport in a straightforward and safe way.”

Balfron High was built under a PFI contract 15 years ago. Following the collapse of a wall at Oxgangs Primary, Edinburgh, after a heavy storm in January it was found that fixtures called header ties, which bind the top of brick walls to a building’s main structural wall, were missing at several schools in the capital.

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Investigations were then carried out at all of Stirling’s schools.

Two issues were discovered at Balfron, which is under the ownership of Balfron Schools Ltd and was built at a cost of £18million under a PFI agreement in 2001. Original constructors Jarvis went into administration in April 2010 and the contract was taken over by SGP Limited.

Independent contractors found that there had been “suspicious wall movement” at a stairwell and a minor issue had been found at a wall at the small gym hall.

Then a small external wall at the school collapsed during a storm in February, and investigations showed that its wall ties had not been installed.

“Further issues” -- which Stirling Council said were not immediately apparent during earlier checks - were discovered earlier this month, prompting the decision to partially close the school.

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