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‘Appalled’ Highlands and Islands MSP Edward Mountain demands Scottish Government education minister Jenny Gilruth visit Charleston Academy in Inverness over ‘state’ of the building

By Philip Murray

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Edward Mountain (inset) has called on Scotland's education minister to visit Charleston Academy in Inverness.
Edward Mountain (inset) has called on Scotland's education minister to visit Charleston Academy in Inverness.

‘Frankly appalling’ conditions at an Inverness school have been raised with Scotland’s education minister by a Highland MSP.

Edward Mountain, who is a list MSP for the Scottish Conservatives, recently visited Charleston Academy at the request of parents.

And he publicly hit out at the “state of the building” following that trip.

Now he has written a letter to minister Jenny Gilruth demanding that improvements be made, and urging her to visit the site itself to see the building “first-hand”.

Mr Mountain said: “The situation in Charleston Academy was frankly appalling – I was genuinely taken aback by what I saw.

“Understandably, much focus goes on the Scottish Government’s poor record when it comes to education standards.

“But the conditions in which teachers have to work and pupils have to learn are important too.

“Clearly, at this school, radical improvements are needed. Parents had told me how bad things were, and I can confirm following my visit they were not exaggerating.

“As a former teacher herself, I’m sure the education secretary would be equally appalled were she to pay the school a visit.”

Highland Council recently announced and approved a plan to invest £2 billion over the next 20 years on improvements to its infrastructure, with schools and roads a top priority. Replacements or improvements for several Highland schools, including Charleston Academy, formed part of the first phase of the plan to commence in the next three to five years, with an estimated investment of between £155 million to £195 million.

Mr Mountain’s letter to Ms Gilruth reads: “I recently visited Charleston Academy in Inverness, at the request of parents and pupils.

“I was somewhat taken aback by what I saw during my visit. Some floors had no floor coverings, some windows neither open or close properly with the glazing blown, there are numerous leaks in roofs and ceilings. There are many more issues but in short, the condition the school is quite frankly appalling.

“In order for you to understand the true extent of the conditions within the school, I would strongly encourage you to visit so that you can see first-hand the unacceptable conditions. As part of this, I would of course be delighted to facilitate a meeting with parents who are growing increasingly concerned about the state of the school.

“I look forward to hearing from you as to whether your diary could accommodate a visit to the school.”

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