Henry Hepburn

The school rising like a phoenix from the ashes

Late one night in September, Lesley Elder got a call that every headteacher dreads: her school was on fire. Within minutes, she was at the scene and, while firefighters tackled the blaze, she was already thinking up ways to minimise disruption to pupils’ education. As Braeview Academy reopens, Henry Hepburn hears about the gargantuan effort and spirit of collaboration that are helping the Dundee secondary to bounce back

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At 10.05pm on Tuesday 11 September, Lesley Elder got the sort of phone call that no headteacher ever wants to receive. The head of Braeview Academy in Dundee had just changed into her pyjamas, and, after a long day including an induction event with other recently appointed school leaders, was ready to zone out in bed with some Nordic noir on Netflix.

But then the phone rang: it was the city council’s head of education, Audrey May. The two of them knew each other well, but they didn’t make a habit of chinwagging late on a school night. Something was up.

May, herself a former secondary head ...

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