The Head Teacher of Preston Lodge High School has provided an update to students, parents and carers regarding building inspection work.

Dear students, parents and carers

Building inspection work at Preston Lodge – Community Update

I am writing to provide an update on the building inspection works which are currently taking place at our school.

I would like to thank all students and staff for their patience, understanding and support during what has been a challenging last week. While there has been some disruption, as a result of parts of the building being unavailable to us, we have minimised the impact on learning by invoking our business continuity plan. This has meant that arrangements were made to adjust rooming, while SQA exams took place in other parts of the building.

As highlighted in my update of last week, inspections of school buildings take place regularly and routinely. Recently, following advice from UK Government, and to support the continued health and safety of all our students and staff, East Lothian Council asked engineering specialists to undertake inspections, focused on establishing the extent and condition of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC). This is a lightweight form of precast concrete, frequently used in public sector buildings in the UK from the mid-1960s to at least the mid-1980s. It is mainly found in roofs, although occasionally in floors and walls. In some situations, identification of RAAC has required building works to be carried out or remedial measures to be put in place.

Initial findings

Inspection works at Preston Lodge have confirmed that RAAC was used in the construction of some, but not all, parts of our building. As a result of faults identified in the RAAC which is present, we will need - as a precautionary measure - to keep some parts of the building closed, while inspections continue and engineers advise on potential remedial actions.

The areas remaining closed are the PE gyms and games hall, the maths “gallery” classrooms, the top floor of C Block (Modern Languages, Business/IT and RME) and the top floor of the Art/Science Block. This will be the case for at least the duration of the current term, which ends on 28 June.

The safety and wellbeing of everyone in school is our top priority. Engineering assessments have confirmed that other areas of the building are unaffected and remain safe to use.

Next steps

By making timetabling adjustments and being flexible in how we use the space available to us, we will be able to maintain existing learning and teaching approaches between now and the end of the term.

Once the engineers have advised us about the different options available, and subsequent decisions are made, we will be clearer about the nature of remedial actions and the timescale for these to be carried out.

Although further disruption is inevitable, I’m sure you will agree that safety is paramount. In the event of disruption at the start of the new session in August, it would still be our intention to maintain provision for learning for all year groups within the facilities here at Preston Lodge. We are now considering what this means in terms of practical measures to maximise the availability of space.

While the continued temporary closure of some parts of the building is not the news any of us would have wished for, and will undoubtedly continue to present difficulties, we are committed to achieving the best possible learning experience for all students and staff. It is clearly a challenging time, but I know we will support each other as a school community and we can draw on the immense resilience and community spirit we are all so proud of.

I am very grateful to all students, parents and carers for your understanding and we will provide you with a further update in due course.

Gavin Clark, Head Teacher

Published: Thursday, 1st June 2023