Staff out on strike at health scare schools

Teachers have walked out at two schools with 'blue water', despite an independent review finding the grounds are safe

Emma Seith

Staff strike at health scare schools with 'blue water' in North Lanarkshire, Scotland

Over 30 teachers are striking this morning at the two North Lanarkshire schools where staff and pupils have raised concerns about the safety of the water.

Last week, an independent review into long-running concerns over water at Buchanan High School and St Ambrose High School in Coatbridge – which are built on a former landfill site – concluded that the schools were safe and that there was no link between the site and any illness.

However, the NASUWT Scotland teaching union said its members would not be returning to work until its own experts had examined the evidence in the report and it was confident key recommendations had been implemented.

Background: Report finds no link to illness

Quick read: Teachers strike at 'blue water' school

Government steps in: Review of ‘blue water’ schools ordered

The union said it had 37 members out on strike at the two schools – 18 from St Ambrose High and 19 from Buchanan High.

Teachers were due to return to work today, with pupils coming back to school after the summer break on Wednesday.

Chris Keates, acting general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “This is a detailed report which requires careful consideration.

“The NASUWT has now passed the report to the experts, who have been advising the union throughout this dispute, for their review and advice. 

“Once we have received their comments, we can then make a decision about the return to work of NASUWT members."

She added that the union was also seeking answers to some “preliminary questions about the report”.

Ms Keates said: “We are concerned to ensure that the council is adopting all of the recommendations and we have asked for the immediate release of the periodic testing results for the membrane as per Recommendation 4.

“We have also asked for a written commitment from the council to make public a report on the remediation work to remove the PCBs [polychlorinated biphenyls].

“Additionally, in the light of paragraph 10.10 of the report referring to NHS Lanarkshire, we have asked the council to confirm whether they will agree to pay for the heavy metal testing for our members as requested by our solicitors.”

Last week, North Lanarkshire Council welcomed the independent review and said it looked forward to pupils and staff returning to the schools this week.

It said the review made it clear that the council and its officers had acted throughout with the health and safety of parents, staff and pupils at the heart of their actions

However, it added that “lessons can be learned” and that the issue of blue water on the site – although harmless in terms of health – “could have been dealt with at an earlier stage”.

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

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