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Call for action at Farr High School over damp music room


By Staff Reporter

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Parents at a Sutherland high school are raising concerns at a lack of action from the local authority over sub-standard classroom accommodation.

A hut housing Farr High School’s music department has been closed since September on health and safety grounds, it has emerged.

Standing outside the music hut are concerned parents, from left, Stephanie Rice, Gary Munro, Joanna Mackenzie, Carly Simpson and Andy Maclean. They are holding some of the musical equipment damaged by the damp.Picture: Jim Johnston
Standing outside the music hut are concerned parents, from left, Stephanie Rice, Gary Munro, Joanna Mackenzie, Carly Simpson and Andy Maclean. They are holding some of the musical equipment damaged by the damp.Picture: Jim Johnston

Mould was found to be growing on the walls and damp was affecting the floor as well as books, instruments and amplifiers.

Music education is now taking place in the former Gaelic classroom, available because of the lack of a Gaelic teacher. However, it is considered to be too small and there are problems with storage.

A Farr High School Parent Council member, who did not wish to be named, said: “This is having a knock-on effect across the whole school as all rooms are in use and a subject like music just can’t become peripatetic due to the range of equipment required. And then there’s a significant noise factor.

“Teacher and pupil stress is being increased as the present situation threatens the range and quality of the lesson which the pupils are accustomed to.

“There is also a very real possibility that this will be reflected in exam results in what is a popular and very successful subject."

The issue is set to be discussed at a meeting of Bettyhill, Strathnaver and Altnaharra Community Council next Tuesday.

Community Council representative and former Farr High School head teacher Jim Johnston said: “The community council will decide how best it can support the parent council with its concerns.”

The music hut is part of a collection of huts outwith the main school building. It was erected around 2006 to replace a second hand demountable unit which had been in situ from 1978.

Mr Johnston said: “When it was first constructed, the music room which also contains two small practice rooms and a storage cupboard, was by far the best insulated in the whole school and the cheapest to heat.

“However, possibly due to the blocking of a vent or vents when a ramp for disabled access was added, the building has been deteriorating silently over the years and has now been declared entirely unfit for use on health and safety grounds.”

A Highland Council spokesman said: “Music is normally taught at Farr High School in a demountable classroom, unfortunately the condition of the unit has deteriorated and is not suitable for use. Where possible, music is being taught in the main school building.The council is considering if and how the music unit could be brought back into safe use. At present there are no financial resourcesallocated for works to replace the music unit.”

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