No part of Woodmill High School 'untouched by fire'

Here Tes Scotland looks at what we know so far about the fire that ravaged Woodmill High in Dunfermline on Sunday

Woodmill High School fire: No part of the Dunfermline secondary school was 'untouched by fire', according to the authorities (Source: Press Association)

When did it happen?

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service was first alerted that there was a fire at Woodmill High School in Dunfermline, Fife, just after 5pm on Sunday. The fire was extinguished on Monday morning. No one was injured.

Have the police taken any action?

Police have arrested a 14-year-old boy in connection with the fire. 

How badly damaged is the school?

The fire started in the school’s department for additional support needs, but Carrie Lindsay, the council's executive director of education and children's services, said in a statement today that "no part of the building" was left "untouched by the fire".

She added: "The wing containing the assembly hall, sports halls, and the technical block is the least damaged, but there are no classroom facilities that will enable us to reopen the school in the short to medium term." Ms Lindsay said the council was "working flat out" to explore the best possible solutions for pupils and that she hoped to have more information on short-term arrangements tomorrow.

How old is the school?

The school has a number of different buildings constructed during different periods but it opened in 1958 and, before the fire, there were plans to build a new school. One proposal was for a super campus that would also include a replacement for St Columba’s High and a new Fife College campus.

What is happening to staff and pupils?

The council has said the school will be closed this week. The school’s 1,400 pupils have been offered the chance to get together for a free lunch this week with classmates and school support staff at local community centres, churches and a primary school. A similar arrangement for pupils with additional support needs is being hosted by special school Calaiswood School, and pupils are being offered swimming and racquet sports for £1 between 9am and 3pm.

Woodmill High teachers are meeting at nearby St Columba’s High every day. Staff are pulling together homework packages that will be accessible via the school’s website, as well as trying to arrange some practical sessions in local community facilities for senior pupils this week.

What’s the likely impact of the fire?

The population of Dunfermline has increased substantially in recent years, which means there is no spare capacity in the town’s other secondary schools for the displaced Woodmill High pupils.

Last year Tes Scotland reported on the aftermath of the fire at Braeview Academy in Dundee, which took place in September 2018 and resulted in the pupils being split across two of the city’s other secondary schools. After a few months, they were able to return to their school, where around 30 temporary buildings had been constructed.

However, the more extensive the damage, the longer Woodmill High pupils and staff will be forced to stay away. One commentator on Twitter said a fire at his Dundee school in the 1970s resulted in three years of being bussed to schools “who didn’t want us”. He predicted the Woodmill High fire would “affect generations”.

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for TES Scotland