The Highland Council is being urged to declare a “school estate emergency” due to the poor conditions of school buildings across the region.
A motion has been lodged by Councillor Helen Crawford and is due to be heard at the next full Highland Council meeting on December 14.
She said it’s understood to be the first motion of its kind in Scotland – and is urging councillors to support the move to declare a crisis situation.
The councillor, of Aird and Loch Ness ward, explained: “Across Scotland the percentage of schools graded A (good) for condition and suitability is almost 91%. That’s in sharp contrast to the situation we have here in the Highlands where not even 20% of our schools are graded A.
“Of more concern, according to statistics provided on the Scottish Government’s website, 10% of secondary schools across Scotland are rated C-Poor in contrast to 37% here in the Highlands.
“We know that thousands of our children across the Highlands are spending their school day in buildings that are not fit for purpose and an unacceptable number of teaching and support staff are spending their working life in those buildings too and that must impact negatively upon recruitment and retention of teachers.
“For these reasons, I am calling upon all Highland councillors to support this motion declaring a school estate emergency until we have fixed the problem that is clearly affecting our children’s education.”
The motion, published today, has been endorsed by councillor’s Ruraidh Stewart, Liz Saggers and Isobel MacKenzie.
Councillor Crawford added: “We must not airbrush it – this is a dire situation and a real crisis.
“I am not wanting political point scoring – I just want the best, warm environment for our children to learn in. Staff deserve to go to school with children – not maintenance – as their number one priority.
“The Highlands deserves more and needs more.”
‘Our school building is not something to be proud of’
Charleston Academy parent council chairman Grant Franklin said the Inverness school was battling RAAC, asbestos and now a lack of funding.
He said: “Highland Council has withdrawn funding for a new school. In the meantime, pupils and teachers in Charleston are contending with mould, moss and wet walls in the corridor.
“There are buckets to catch water everywhere.
“We even have black guttering inside the school classrooms to take water away from pupils.”
He said recent discussions with the council had led to £1.5 million in funding over five years being offered.
“But that is not going to touch the sides,” he said.
“If we can’t have a new school then serious investment into Charleston must be made as soon as possible.
“At the moment the building is not something to be proud of.”
Raymond Bremner, leader of the Highland Council, has been approached for comment.
A spokeswoman for Highland Council said it was unable to comment ahead of the meeting next week.