Send for HMI if you want those repairs

One of the few ways to improve the often appalling state of school buildings is to invite Her Majesty's Inspectors to identify the problems, the Scottish Parent Teacher Council is advising members.

But Judith Gillespie, convener of the council, which is raising 100,000 signatures to back a campaign against cuts in education, warned that such a tactic pushed other schools down the waiting list.

"The only trouble is that they can only get round about 5 per cent of schools in any one year and it takes them 20 years to get round the lot," Mrs Gillespie said. "HMIs, having made their recommendations, go back in a year and authorities are obliged to sort out the problems at the expense of something else."

A report on Airidhantuim primary in the Western Isles, produced in May, illustrated the point, she said. The inspectors found parts of the Gaelic-medium classroom were neither wind nor waterproof, the exterior of the P1-P3 classroom needed repainting, the interior walls of the dining hall suffered from "extensive condensation, flaking paint and some fungal growth", and an electrical fuse box remained uncovered.

As pupils went back this week to the 50-pupil primary in the village of Shader, Neil Galbraith, director of education, said renovation work was well under way to counter the inspectors' findings.

"The advantage to schools is that the report gives schools a higher profile. The inspectors' report dictates the money we have. Unfortunately, we need six times as much for maintenance as we are currently spending," Mr Galbraith said.

Meanwhile, problems with 1960s buildings have led to the closure of St Gabriel's primary in Prestonpans for 10 months. Water damage to the roof will cost Pounds 100,000 to remedy.

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