LEADER of Scottish Borders Council, Shona Haslam, was this week pressed for a timescale on a new school for Peebles High.

And she revealed that temporary cabins may be in place for at least two years before a long-term solution is realised.

Innerleithen community leaders asked for an update on the progress being made at the secondary following November's fire.

Councillor Haslam told this week's meeting: “Everyone has been working incredibly hard and we hope to have the pupils back on site on February 4 which, given the timescales involved and the Christmas holidays, is pretty incredible.

"It’s absolutely fantastic that the team have been working all through the holidays, I think they had Christmas Day off but that was all, to make sure that everything is going to be up and running by the start of February.

"The older pupils go on study leave at the end of this week and then they’ll all be back on site using temporary classrooms.”

Stressing that the temporary accommodation is a medium term solution, Councillor Haslam said the council is still in talks with the Scottish Government regarding a long term plans for the school.

Community councillor Gordon Daly asked the leader what the timescale is for the permanent solution.

Councillor Haslam replied: “I can’t give you a categorical answer at this stage.

"The new Jedburgh school from start to finish has been a two year process and that’s finding a site, dealing with the planning and the kids moving in.”

Mr Daly added: “So are you saying for two years the people at Peebles High are going to be in the temporary accommodation?”

Councillor Haslam stressed that the temporary units are designed as 'suitable classroom accommodation'.

She added: “They’ve got all the services and full Wi-Fi.

"We’re not expecting the roll-out of iPads to the school to be disrupted so we are still hoping to get those out before Easter.

"The school will go back to normal teaching in classrooms. It’s going to be in temporary buildings but we wouldn’t be doing it if we weren’t confident that the kids were getting the provision they require.”

Praising the work of Scottish Borders Council and emergency services, Chairman of Innerleithen Community Council Marshall Douglas said: “It was a terrible thing which nobody could have guessed was going to happen.

"For that to be thrown onto the council at a time of tight budgets is absolutely horrendous and I think the councillors and officials and all the emergency services coped with it tremendously.

“And yes, it might take a while to get things up and running to what it was before, and maybe even a new school eventually, but the important thing is the children are going to be taught back on site as a unified school rather than displaced elsewhere and the community have to support that.”