I made reference to the fire in the blog last week and in this one I can provide a little more detail of what has taken place this week.  There are things I cannot say as the matter is subject to an on-going police investigation.

In terms of the investigation I can confirm that the police have charged a 14 year old in connection with the incident.  The prompt and professional actions by both the police and fire services is something we have tried to highlight in all our communications on the issue.

‘Group call’ has been a very effective way of keeping people informed and it is essential that parents keep us informed of any changes to information we hold as this may be the difference between getting vital information or missing it.  The local media also took a keen interest in events and I would like to thank them for striking the right note in their coverage.

We were very keen to get pupils back to work as soon as it was safe and practical to do so.  On the Monday there were a lot of contractors in the building trying to clean sooty deposits from the area most affected and to partition off this area from the rest of the school.  As the day progressed we took advice from alarm and electrical specialists and also from health and safety experts.  We also identified ‘back up’ spaces for the two classrooms and library which we would be unable to access.  In the light of all of this advice we made a decision to re-open for all pupils on the Tuesday.  It was nothing short of remarkable that we were able to do so and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to City Council employees and extrernal contractors for their prompt and professional actions.

In one of the media interviews I made reference to the UN convention on the rights of the child (UNCRC) highlighting that the actions of an individual had denied 920 children of the right to an education (article 28).  A lot of people had worked really hard to ensure that by the Tuesday these children could enjoy this right again.  It was a vital time of year particularly for our seniors who needed to get university applications away, complete course assessments and prepare for their prelim exams in January.

Although we decided to cancel the Christmas concert we did manage to go ahead with and adapted version of the Chaplains assemblies on the Wednesday.  Our pupils also went ahead with carols in the car park and annual event to spread some festive cheer in the community.  During the week we had also kept going with a Christmas Jumper theme to try and raise funds for a defibrillator in the school.

Over the week pupils, staff and the wider school community had shown great resilience and focus, as a result the interim arrangements had proved to be very effective.  As a result we took the decision to proceed with an adapted talent show at the end of the last day of term.  We were particularly keen to run this event as it was going to raise funds for ‘befriend a child’.  Although we were not quite able to fit everyone in (S1 missed out) it was a fantastic way to end a week which had started so badly.

Much work will be needed to restore areas affected by the incident and when we return to school on Wednesday 6 January 2016 it is likely some areas of the school will be sealed off to allow contractors to operate.  I have every confidence in staff and pupils to adapt to any short term disruption – they have shown themselves to be very resourceful, resolute and resilient.

Can I thank everyone for their support this week and wish you all a safe, relaxed and enjoyable festive break.