Second investigation starts into alleged health risks at new school

A SECOND investigation is to be launched at a new Glasgow school amid claims that the building is damaging the health of staff and pupils.

Staff at Rosshall Academy, which was built as part of a 1.2 billion public-private partnership, have complained of head-aches and eye and throat ailments. They insist the problems are being caused by sick building syndrome.

Air quality tests were carried out earlier this summer after staff claimed small classrooms and poor ventilation were making teachers and pupils drowsy and inattentive.

But the tests at the south side school were inconclusive and now the city council and 3ED, the company which built the school have been forced to undertake a second round of extended tests.

The teaching union EIS said its fears over environmental difficulties at the school have grown since it opened in June 2002.

Willie Hart, the secretary of the EIS Glasgow association, said: "I have a bulging dossier of complaints from our members at Rosshall regarding over-heating and lack of air in the school, where we have recorded temperatures of up to 32 Celsius.

"The heating and ventilation systems are seriously inadequate, and staff are required to flout safety rules by wedging open fire doors to get fresh air.

"The atmosphere in the school is not appropriate to teaching or learning and we are asking for a full-scale investigation to get this resolved as soon as possible."

Mr Hart added: "We welcome more tests as there appears to be something wrong with the fundamental design of the building that needs to be addressed urgently and we will soon be at the point of approaching the health and safety executive over the matter."

Another five schools in the city that were part of the PPP programme also are being tested. Springburn Academy, St Mungo’s Academy in the east end and Drumchapel High are all new buildings, while Holyrood Secondary, the biggest in the city, and Hillpark Secondary in the west end have been refurbished.

Other schools have faced remedial work within months of being rebuilt or refurbished.

The 3ED consortium has rebuilt or refurbished all of Glasgow’s 29 secondary schools.

Rosshall, which cost 13 million, has 1275 pupils and 90 staff. Teachers claim the developers and the council cut classroom sizes to keep costs down.

Responding to the claims, a spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said: "More extensive tests are being undertaken at the school because the previous tests proved inconclusive.

"We expect to have results next week after tests for temperature and humidity have been analysed."

Meanwhile, Andy Kerr, the Scottish Executive Finance Minister, maintained his belief that the public-private partnership had played a significant part in delivering new investment in schools and hospitals.

He said that Rosshall’s problems have nothing to do with the PPP process.

He added: "While this is a matter for the local authorities, I am pleased the council is taking steps and working with the school to get to the bottom of the situation.

"The fact Rosshall is a PPP school is irrelevant - this could have happened anywhere."

Joe Linney, the general manager of building consortium 3ED, said: "The comfort of pupils and teaching staff is of the utmost importance to us."