Remedial work to address building defects at Preston Lodge High School has been agreed.

Inspections this Spring confirmed that Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) - 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 - was present in some of the roof space at Preston Lodge. Inspections were carried out following the issue of new national guidance.

As a result of faults identified in a limited number of areas, some parts of the school building were closed as a precautionary measure, with temporary arrangements being put in place to maintain learning and teaching.

Following a detailed option appraisal by Innovate East Lothian Ltd and FES FM Ltd (contract partners for six of the county’s secondary schools), it has been agreed that a new timber structure will be put in place in affected parts of the building, to support the existing roof. This option will result in the RAAC becoming a non-structural component of the roof fabric with the roof fully supported by the new wooden structure. 

This will provide a long term technical solution and it is anticipated all affected learning spaces will be back in use with phased re-commissioning up to February 2024. It also provides a technical solution enabling the school to remain open, minimising disruption to learning and teaching.

Home rooms for S1 students continue to be in operation at this time but is anticipated all learning for this year group can resume within Preston Lodge building in advance of the full remediation works being completed in February 2024.

While there are revenue costs for the council associated with requirements some aspects of the temporary arrangements, the remedial works will be carried out at no cost to the local authority.

Tom Reid, Head of Infrastructure, East Lothian Council, said:

“The confirmation of compromised RAAC within parts of Preston Lodge has presented a number of challenges, particularly for staff and students. While temporary arrangements were swiftly put in place to minimise disruption and ensure safety, there has been significant focus on identifying works to address the issue as quickly as possible.

“Close and effective partnership working between East Lothian Council, Innovate East Lothian Ltd and FES FM Ltd has resulted in us agreeing a technical solution which will see a new timber structure put in place to support the existing roof.”

“We will continue to work closely together in putting this solution in place. It is expected that affected classrooms will come back into use on a staged basis in the coming months.”

Councillor Fiona Dugdale, Cabinet Spokesperson for Education and Children’s and Family Services, said:

“I would like to thank everyone for their hard work in getting to this point. We are also grateful to staff, students and the school community for their patience and understanding as we have worked through this complex situation to agree a way forward.”

Published: Thursday, 14th September 2023