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Calls for answers

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By Fiona Reid
Dumfries and West
Calls for answers

‘OUR kids are suffering’ — that’s the message from parents of North West Community Campus pupils.

‘OUR kids are suffering’ — that’s the message from parents of North West Community Campus pupils.

The awed £28 million ‘super school’ in Dumfries closed last month following safety fears.

And this week parents were told it would not re-open until January 2019 at the earliest.

Searching for answers, a public meeting at St Ninian’s Primary school was held on Tuesday where pupils, carers and parents shared shocking allegations about cur- rent learning conditions:

  • One father spoke of how his son was ‘thumped’ by other pupils at a school he was deployed to.
  • Parents shared fears that sen- ior pupils, who attend up to three different high schools a day to attend lessons, are not registered properly and automated texts that alert parents to unauthorised no- shows are no longer functioning.
  • n A mother claimed her 11-year- old S1 child and class were left to watch Peppa Pig cartoons by one teacher during prime learning time.
  • n A senior pupil said that full classes had left her learning in corridors.
  • n Older pupils revealed they have lost their sense of commun- ity – being ripped apart from their classmates and friends and sent to different schools.
  • North West Dumfries councillor Graham Bell wants better for his constituents.

Speaking at the meeting, he said: “My phone has been ringing off the hook for weeks.

“We’ve had DG One and people are calling this, rightly so, DG Two.

“It’s a £28 million building and it’s a disaster.

“What concerns me is, will the school be open in January?”

It was reported to councillors last month that 1200 faults were uncovered in the building, but Councillor Bell now alleges that number has soared to as high as 1900.

And listening to his constituents, he is calling for portable buildings to be built at the old Maxwelltown High School site to keep the community together.

The suggestion of portable schools was raised continually throughout the meeting, always to rounds of applause.

But Gillian Brydson, acting education director representing Dumfries and Galloway Council at the event, said erecting portable buildings may act as a distraction to the main works.

Meanwhile, concerns for pupils’ education and development were voiced continually, as parents and youngsters stressed they are well behind where they should be with their learning.

One worried mother said: “I have a 17-year-old hoping to go to university next year, will the SQA step in to help?”

But parents were told that while the SQA exam board has promised to be flexible with coursework deadlines, exams will not and can not be ‘watered down’ as there is a national standard, not local.

History of North West Community Campus

November 2016 – work starts on the site

June 2017 – pupils of Lochside Primary School get a behind the scenes tour of the construction site

April 2018 – Derryth Hope appointed as headteacher of the two to 18 campus

July 2018 – pictures of a collapsed ceiling in a room full of furniture and equipment emerge. Contractor Graham release a statement saying the ceiling was actually brought down in a controlled manner

August 21 2018 – safety guarantees are given and the new school opens to pupils after the summer holiday

August 23 – the school is closed just days after opening when a sliding door comes off its rails and hurts a six- year-old pupil

August 28 – the school reopens after further checks and more guarantees are given.

September 7 – an electronic board falls on a pupil and the council close the school inde nitely. Safety inspections are carried out over the next few days.

September 11 – senior pupils are deployed to the town’s other high schools to join lessons

September 12 – children from nursery to S3 and the learning centre take up residences at other primary schools, including their former schools

October 8 – it is announced the school will not open until January 2019 at the earliest

October 9 – a public meeting is held where parents call for answers and a plea is made for portable buildings to be erected at the old Max High for senior pupils to use as a makeshift school

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