The Head Teacher of Preston Lodge High School has written to parents/carers providing an update in relation to building works.

Dear student/parent/carer

S1 learning update

It’s hard to believe that we have reached the end of term 1!

Our S1s are now well and truly part of the PL community, and we have really enjoyed getting to know both our new students and their families.

As we prepare for term 2 we have much to be proud of. Our community has really pulled together to overcome significant challenges, and we now have some light on the horizon. This email provides greater clarity about when we might be able to bring S1s into PL full-time.

Building update

Good progress is still being made with remedial work to address our school’s building defects, and as you will be aware, some parts of the school building remain closed as a precautionary measure, due to faults in some Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC).

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 was announced in September that a new timber structure would be put in place in affected parts of the building, to support the existing roof. This provides a long-term technical solution, with the RAAC becoming a non-structural component of the roof fabric and the roof fully supported by the new wooden structure. 

As a result of the phased re-commissioning process, we expect that three maths classrooms will be back ready for use after the October break. We are hopeful that art and biology classrooms will also be back in operation towards the end of November. This represents a significant step forward, and further details on both this, and the re-commissioning of other areas, will be provided in the new term.

The return of classrooms in these three areas would allow us to bring S1 students back into PL full-time. So, if the building works continue to progress well we hope that, other than for PE, all S1 learning will resume within Preston Lodge in late November. It is important to remember though, that delays are always possible in building work.  That said, we remain confident that our S1s will be back at PL full-time, well in advance of the full remediation works being completed in February 2024.

We have, of course, been able to keep other non-affected areas of the school open while this work has been taking place, and we anticipate this will continue to be the case between now and February.

While much work remains to be done, we are really encouraged by the progress that is being made, and we are grateful for the continuation of close and effective partnership working between East Lothian Council, Innovate East Lothian Ltd and FES FM Ltd.

Temporary arrangements to maintain learning and teaching, including the use of temporary classrooms and alternative accommodation, will still be in operation after the October break.

Learning in Home Rooms

We are looking forward to sharing the results of our learning surveys, and our student focus groups in the new term. There was some really positive feedback about Home Room learning, but there were also some great ideas for improvement, many of which have already been built into our planning for next term.

Whilst Home Rooms outside PL remain in operation, the same timetable will be in place, and that timetable will continue for a short period after S1 classes move into PL full-time. This will allow classes to settle into their new surroundings, swapping their current Home Room for a PL Home Room.

After that short settling in period, we will then rearrange classes into the original register classes that were set up prior to our building disruption, and shortly after that the amount of time students spend in non-practical PL classes will increase, with project-based learning time in Home Rooms decreasing. At this stage we cannot be certain of precise timelines or timetables, but we are confident that we can make this part of a longer-than-usual transition process work really well.

Some students and families may be anxious about so much change, after a period of relative calm, but student wellbeing will always be our top priority, and we will provide all students and families with clear timelines, and very focused support, as things move forward.

PE update

From week two of the new term (week beginning 30 October) Pennypit classes will take part in PE lessons at Meadowmill Sports Centre, rather than next to the Pennypit. This is due to the deterioration of the rugby pitch being used, and also because those classes now need to experience different sports, that can only take place at Meadowmill.  Bus transport will be provided for students moving between the Pennypit and Meadowmill, with further details provided in the new term.

Prestonpans student movements between Home Rooms and Preston Lodge

Students in all five Prestonpans Home Rooms currently move between PL and their Home Rooms on foot, but we are now planning for bus travel to be arranged in the event of wet weather. We think the walking has actually been a positive part of the school day for most students, but we are keen to avoid students arriving at either PL or their Home Room soaking wet. A full update will be provided early in the new term. For the first days of the new term current arrangements will remain in place.

This year has, of course, presented many challenges for our staff, our students, our families and the wider school community. I would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding, as well as the great support we have received in our work, and we very much look forward to seeing classrooms re-open in the weeks ahead.

I hope you have a relaxing and enjoyable October break.

Best wishes

Gavin Clark

Head Teacher

Published: Friday, 13th October 2023