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Moray public unable to watch council debate on faulty concrete at Forres Academy

By Alistair Whitfield

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Forres Academy.
Forres Academy.

Parents tuning in to watch discussions on Forres Academy’s defective concrete problems will have been left disappointed.

Moray Council’s webcast of its education committee on Wednesday went off-line several times.

Staff were unable to fix it which meant the public couldn't watch the proceedings.

The 'hybrid meeting' system was installed by the council in the wake of Covid.

When working, it allows people who aren't physically present in the room to both watch and speak at meetings.

However its failure yesterday meant Jan Sinclair, the school's head teacher, had to joined proceedings via Microsoft Teams.

Committee chairwoman Kathleen Robertson apologised for the system being "kaput".

Councillor agreed the discussions should continue amongst themselves.

Moray Council's debating chamber. Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
Moray Council's debating chamber. Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete was found at Forres Academy during the summer. Since then the school's upper floor has not been used for classes.

Senior pupils have been bused to schools in Elgin and Lossiemouth to take practical subjects.

But their travel time eats into their lessons.

And those in S1 to S3 have received very few practical classes.

Work to open up classrooms – including two science labs on the first floor – is expected to be completed by the start of the new term in January.

However prelim and SQA exams are expected to be held elsewhere. Forres House Community Centre is being considered as a potential option.

Ms Robertson praised her pupils for their resistance over the last few months.

She said: "It’s been an incredibly disruptive period. And the children have coped particularly well."

Ms Robertson also thanked staff for their efforts during the "incredibly trying" period.

Councillor Scott Lawrence (Forres, SNP) wanted to allay anxieties over the school.

He said: "The building’s safer now than it’s been for a long time."

Dealing with RAAC at Forres Academy will cost the council more than £605,000.

That includes structural engineering, design and construction work.

But there is also an annual cost of £19,000 to monitor the state of the RAAC at the school

While the additional transport costs over the winter term are estimated to be around £14,000.

The council is aiming to have a new Forres Academy built by August 2027.

It is currently looking at three potential sites.

Roysvale Park is opposite the current school.

Lochyhill lies to the east of the town, near Forbes Hill.

The final option is on Grantown Road.

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