THE first pupils have returned to Peebles High this morning since the devastating fire in November.

And many at the secondary faced a race against time over the weekend to have the school ready.

Council chief executive Tracey Logan was full of praise for her staff as well as the wider Peebles community.

She said: “As the first pupils return to the school today I just want to acknowledge the exceptional support offered to both the school and the council since the fire.

“I personally want to convey my thanks to them all.

"Assistance and offers of support of all kinds came flooding in from the local community, businesses, our partners Live Borders and CGI, and other local authorities.

“The past two months have been an extremely challenging period for all concerned with the school and I am delighted that we have managed to be in a position to have the pupils back on site so quickly.

“That has only been possible thanks to an enormous amount of work and the support provided to us, and of course the outstanding work by firefighters over several days to contain the fire and minimise the extent of the damage.”

All fourth-to-sixth year pupils returned today with younger years joining them tomorrow.

But pupils with complex needs will continue to be taught at the specialist facility at Galashiels Academy until further notice.

Peebles High School headteacher Campbell Wilson said: “To be able to welcome pupils back to Peebles High School this week is fantastic, and I’d like to pay tribute to the patience, resilience and positive attitude of pupils, their families and my staff while temporary teaching arrangements have been in place.

“The support from the school community - particularly the Parent Council - and beyond has been overwhelming and we are all extremely grateful for that and also the understanding of the local people and groups displaced from their normal venues.

“We are now fully focused on settling back in as quickly as possible and providing all subjects in the best possible settings in a remarkably short period of time, considering what has occurred.

“From today it really is business as usual for us all and we look forward to wider discussions in due course about the future of the school.”