Some pupils can't return to 'bluewater' Buchanan School

13 August 2019, 19:05 | Updated: 13 August 2019, 19:18

Buchanan High

Some pupils at a school in North Lanarkshire will not be allowed on campus amid a row over "blue water" health risks.

The council confirmed on Tuesday that Buchanan and St Ambrose high schools in Coatbridge will be open to most children for the first day of term on Wednesday.

A "small" number who attend Buchanan will not be able to attend due to safety concerns for those with additional support needs.

NASUWT members have been on strike since Monday - when staff were supposed to return to work - due to continued fears about health risks at the shared campus, which was built on a former landfill site.

The strike is continuing despite an independent review on Monday finding no link between the schools and ill health.

But union members continue to have concerns.

Derek Brown, executive director of education and families at North Lanarkshire Council, said: "We fully understand the impact on those pupils and their parents and are sorry they find themselves in this position.

"During our discussions with NASUWT we listened to the concerns expressed by their members.

"We reiterated the central findings of the independent review about the safety of the schools.

"We welcome the positive spirit in which these talks were carried out and look forward to further discussions over the next 24 hours."

He added: "I would also like to place on record the council's appreciation of staff, parents and pupils during what has been a difficult time for these schools.

"The council is determined to move on positively and collaboratively, and we look forward to doing so."

Parents and teachers reported blue water coming from school taps and raised fears of links between possible chemical exposure and illness among staff and pupils.

This led to an independent review being set up, which found no link between the schools and illness.

The local authority and NASUWT had an unresolved meeting about those fears on Tuesday, as the teaching union said the investigation left some questions unanswered.

NASUWT said it will now wait to hear from its legal advisers about the responses given by North Lanarkshire Council during those talks.

A total of 36 members are now on strike, with action planned to continue until September 6 unless they are satisfied the site poses no risks.

Chris Keates, acting general secretary of NASUWT, said: "The NASUWT has not allowed itself to be rushed into a decision about the report.

"Matters relating to the health of individuals, particularly when a number of staff have been diagnosed with serious health problems, deserve our utmost care and attention.

"In the meeting today, the council provided helpful responses to a number of questions the union had raised and these will now be considered by our legal advisers and experts.

"Until that process is completed, NASUWT members will remain on strike as scheduled tomorrow."

North Lanarkshire Council said it will provide further updates for Thursday in "due course".