Asbestos, diggers, generators, sewage and dust - all in a day's work

31st August 2001 at 01:00
As Educational Institution of Scotland representatives, we feel compelled to respond to the comments in the press about the state of Shawlands Academy in Glasgow, currently undergoing refurbishment under the Government's public private partnership.

On returning after the summer holiday, we were appalled by the sight before us: the school was no more than a noisy, extremely dusty, and unfinished building site. At one point, it was difficult to see colleagues at the end of a corridor because of the amount of dust.

Diggers, electrical generators and wires were strewn about the playground. Asbestos which had been removed from a classroom was lying in a plastic bag in a room and not taken away until the day after the school opened.

At times it was difficult to be heard because of the noise; there was only one telephone line; some areas were without lighting, some without hot water; noxious clouds of dust and painting going on in the corridors.

Also, at least half of our teaching materials and equipment were still in storage, missing or vandalised. There were also serious problems with inadequate toilet facilities, leakage of waste matter directly on to playground areas and insufficient staff facilities.

The building was completely unsafe and unfit to remain in and was closed at 10am for staff on the Thursday and 12 noon on Friday. Rushed health and safety requirements were not met until 8pm on Sunday - pending completion of work during the night.

Therefore, all was far removed from the picture painted by Glasgow City Council that it was a mere matter of unpacking a few boxes and that teachers were "whingeing" and "sniping" on the sidelines.

If it had not been for the goodwill, hard work and co-operation of staff, the council's refurbishment plans would be even further behind - a point which seems to have escaped our employer's notice.

Teachers have continued to work in intolerable conditions. This is the real result of the council's determination to meet deadlines at our expense.

Lesley Atkins Tom Donnelly on behalf of the EIS branch Shawlands Academy Glasgow

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