BY Ryan McDougall | January 17 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


School goes the extra mile to help neighbours after fire

A Catholic high school in Fife is continuing to support senior pupils of a nearby non-denominational school which is being rebuilt after a catastrophic fire in August.

St Columba’s High School, Dunfermline, took in sixth year pupils from neighbouring Woodmill High School after the building was ravaged by a blaze on August 26.

Other year groups were taken in by schools across Fife, and S1 Woodmill students are currently being housed at the local Vine Church.

Kevin O’Connor, headteacher of St Columba’s, said the school is still supporting around 150 S6 Woodmill pupils as the option presents the least disruption for the young people, who are due to sit their prelims this month and will go on exam leave in March.


Least disruption

“It makes perfect sense as it provides the least disruption for them, and their main building is quite literally across the road so they’ll still have the connection to Woodmill. They will be staying with us for the remainder of the year,” he said.

“It’s purely for continuity, and everything’s quite settled here. The pupils of both schools have been working hand in hand.

“All the schools in Fife that have been helping Woodmill have gone above and beyond in helping to make the experience the best it can be.”

St Columba’s and Woodmill have always worked closely together, Mr O’Connor explained, meaning the temporary transition has been harmonious and the pupils of St Columba’s welcomed their friends from across the road ‘with open arms.’


Community spirit

“It’s a really lovely story of people helping each other, demonstrating the community spirit and our school values,” he added.

Mr O’Connor explained the community had to act quickly following the fire.

“We just worked through the issues when the fire happened,” he said.

“We had about three days to plan for them coming here as the fire took place on the Sunday and we took the pupils in shortly afterwards.”

He credited the staff of both schools for coming together to ensure timetable and classroom needs were met, as well as the janitorial and kitchen staff for facilitating the additional pupils.

“Everybody pulled together,” he said. “A very pleasing aspect of this is you know you’ve been working with pupils and staff who went the extra mile. I’m lucky to work with people who have made this happen.”



When the fire broke out on August 26, a total of 80 firefighters fought the blaze and managed to save some classrooms, eight science labs, three gym halls, three computing rooms, four CDT rooms and four home economics rooms.

A boy aged 14 was charged with wilful fire-raising and danger of life.

A new education campus is to replace both schools in 2024 as Woodmill, St Columba’s and Fife College are to merge and move into a new facility.

The shared campus is estimated to cost between £150million and £180million.

The Scottish Government will invest up to £90million, funding the Fife College section, and up to half the cost of the schools. Fife council will pay the remainder of the costs.

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