Polish language school in Inverness finds temporary accommodation after Highland Council introduces rent increases

The Polish School in Inverness offers children the opportunity to discover their heritage. Image: Polska Szkola Sobotnia

A Polish language school in Inverness has moved to other temporary accommodation after facing rising rental costs.

Polska Szkola Sobotnia, who teaches dozens of children on Saturdays, was based at Inverness High School.

But it is among youth organizations that have been hit by the higher charges introduced by Highland Council to use premises such as classrooms, classrooms, community halls and social spaces.

The school is now holding lessons at Culloden Balloch Baptist Church for which it is grateful, but says the space is not ideal for numbers and classes.

Other organisations, including Girlguiding and Cradlehall Primary School Football Club, have also said the new rental fees will affect them and in turn could impact families struggling with the cost of living.

Magda Krol, director of Polska Szkola Sobotnia, said the school has been in existence since 2008 and currently has 86 pupils, most of whom were born in Scotland but have Polish roots and families.

“Their first language is English but we teach Polish as a second language,” explained Ms Krol who said it was important that when families visited or talked to relatives in Poland, they could communicate.

“We teach Polish culture, traditions and history.

“It is very important to know your roots.”

The students of Polska Szkola Sobotnia discover their culture.  Photo: Polska Szkola Sobotnia.
The students of Polska Szkola Sobotnia discover their culture. Photo: Polska Szkola Sobotnia.

After councilors agreed to raise rental fees at the March budget meeting, the school – which is run as a nonprofit – had to double its rental costs.

“I spoke to our parents and our teachers and they said we weren’t able to afford this every Saturday,” Ms Krol said.

While the school is grateful and relieved to have found a solution at Culloden Balloch Baptist Church, they say the space is not ideal as the pupils, aged 5 to 16, have varying abilities and must be divided into different classes. It also limits the number it can accommodate.

Mrs. Krol does not know what will happen after the summer holidays.

“We are looking for every opportunity to run our school which is crucial for our students,” she said.

New fees for using Highland Council premises came into effect last month

They are organized into groups according to purpose with groups of brownies, guides and scouts in the lowest group as well as sports, social, political and religious activities, musical competitions and blood donation sessions.

The new hourly rate for a classroom, small meeting room or equivalent space, for example, is £10.30, while a small room will cost £21.96 per hour.

Cradlehall Primary School Football Club, which runs sessions at Millburn Academy in Inverness for P2-P7 pupils, faces annual fees of over £6,000 to hire the outdoor pitch and indoor hall which were previously free.

Youth organizations impacted by rising municipal rents

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