All Scots councils urged to check safety of schools

Problems started when a wall collapsed at Oxgangs Primary School during high winds in January

Scottish Government officials have written to all local authorities in Scotland asking them to carry out any necessary checks on the safety of their school buildings following the closure of 17 schools in Edinburgh.

The Scottish Government action comes after a decision by Edinburgh Council to close all 17 of its Public Private Partnership 1 (PPP1) schools on safety concerns from Monday April 11.

Edinburgh Council closed the 17 schools after receiving advice from the Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP), the body responsible for building, managing and operating the schools for the local authority.

The problems with Edinburgh’s PPP1 schools started in January when a wall collapsed at Oxgangs Primary School during high winds.

Edinburgh Council said remedial works taking place at Oxgangs Primary uncovered “new issues relating to the school’s construction” and ESP’s technical experts “were unable to give council officers sufficient guarantees that Oxgangs and other PPP1 schools are safe to open on Monday.”

The Edinburgh closures affect roughly 9,000 pupils and it is unclear when the schools will reopen.

Education Secretary Angela Constance said it was too early to assess any wider implications for schools in other parts of Scotland.

“However, Scottish Government officials have written to all local authorities this weekend to ask them to carry out any necessary checks on their own estate as soon as possible,” Constance added.

“We understand that all of the affected buildings in Edinburgh were completed over ten years ago.

“We will ensure that, as more information about the nature of the issue in Edinburgh is established, this is passed on to other local authorities to assist them in this process.”

Edinburgh Council leader Andrew Burns said: “Edinburgh Schools Partnership have let the council down but more importantly they have the let children, parents and staff of this city down …

“The safety of children and our staff is our top priority and we’re simply not willing to take any risks.

“As such we have no option but to close these schools …

“We fully recognise the significant inconvenience to parents caused by these closures.

“However I am sure everyone will understand why we have taken these steps.

“We will keep parents and carers updated over the coming week as more information becomes available.”

Contingency arrangements are being actively considered by council staff and developments will be given to parents on Monday.

The schools that will be initially closed from Monday are: Braidburn, Broomhouse Primary, Castleview Primary, Craigour Park Primary, Craigmount High, Craigroyston Primary, Drummond Community High, Firrhill High, Forthview Primary, Gracemount High, Oxgangs Primary School, Pirniehill Primary, Rowanfield, Royal High, St David’s Primary, St Joseph’s Primary and St Peters RC Primary.

Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre in Moredun will also be closed.

Edinburgh Council said priority will be given to S4, S5 and S6 school pupils who are preparing for exams in the coming weeks.

About the Author

Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.