The Head Teacher of Preston Lodge High School has provided an update to students, parents and regarding arrangements for learning and teaching as a result of building inspection works.

Dear students, parents and carers

Building inspection work at Preston Lodge – Community Update

I am writing to provide an update on the temporary closure of parts of the school building and work to maintain learning provision.

As you will recall from previous updates, East Lothian Council asked engineering specialists to undertake building inspections, focused on establishing the extent and condition of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC). This followed advice from the UK Government in relation to RAAC, which 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 concerns within some elements of RAAC has required building works to be carried out or remedial measures to be put in place.

Inspection works at Preston Lodge confirmed that RAAC was used in the construction of some, but not all, parts of our building. As a result of faults identified in a limited number of areas in which the RAAC is present, we have been required, as a precautionary measure, to keep some parts of the building closed. 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.

This has clearly not been the end to school session which anyone wanted and, whilst we have been able to minimise the impact on learning by invoking our business continuity plan and completing the exam programme, there has been inevitable disruption in the school which we have had to carefully manage. We have, for example, made timetabling adjustments, and been flexible in how we use the space available to us.

I want to pay tribute to and thank all students, staff and families for their patience, understanding and support. We have been resilient as a community and we have been able to find solutions. However, this has been difficult and unsettling for everybody.

While engineers are considering the options for potential remedial actions and timescales, we are working on plans for the start of the new school session in August. We do so now knowing it is highly likely that – regardless of when remedial work begins – some of space currently closed will still be unavailable to us at that time.

Our focus continues to be on achieving the best possible learning experience for all students and staff.

We are working on contingency plans which will include some temporary, alternative arrangements to provide the necessary learning and teaching space for all year groups.

Although I am not currently in a position to confirm these arrangements or timetabling adjustments, the school will provide a further update before the summer break.

In the meantime, we are continuing to work closely with colleagues from East Lothian Council, and are putting a significant amount of work into managing what is a highly-complex matter, in order to minimise disruption and return to normality as quickly as possible.

Best wishes

Gavin Clark

Head Teacher

Published: Monday, 26th June 2023