Councils across Scotland urged to check school safety

Councils across the country are being urged to check the safety of school buildings after sudden closures in Edinburgh on safety grounds.

Officials ordered the closure of 17 schools and a community centre on Friday.

It is not yet known when they will re-open.

It is now feared that all schools built under the same private finance contract could pose a safety risk to children and staff.

Image copyright Scott Arthur
Image caption Oxgangs Primary was damaged in Storm Gerturde.

In Edinburgh, this includes 10 primary schools, five secondaries and two additional support needs schools - and the Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre.

Edinburgh Schools Partnership, which operates the buildings, has now apologised.

In the meantime, about 9,000 children face having nowhere to go when schools resume after the Easter break.

Four schools in Edinburgh have closed due to structural concerns in the last month.

Miller, the contractors who built the schools ten years ago, were working under the Public Private Partnership 1 project.

A spokeswoman for ESP said: "While carrying out remedial works on Friday afternoon, a new issue came to light at two schools - Oxgangs and St Peter's - relating to an absence of header ties in sections of the building.

"The standard of construction carried out by the building contractor is completely unacceptable and we are now undertaking full structural surveys to determine whether this issue is more widespread.

She added: "Edinburgh Schools Partnership will accept full financial responsibility for investigating and resolving these issues.

"We would like to apologise to parents and pupils for all of the uncertainty and inconvenience caused, and give our sincere assurances that we will fix these issues."


An emergency meeting of the Scottish government's resilience committee was held on Saturday .

Education secretary Angela Constance said: "It is 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.

"We understand that all of the affected buildings in Edinburgh were completed over 10 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."

Image copyright Annemarie Pearson
Image caption A wall at Oxgangs Primary collapsed during high winds.

Wall collapse

The problems were first uncovered in January when a wall at Oxgangs Primary collapsed during high winds.

Three other schools were later closed after inspections revealed problems with the way walls had been built.

The schools were all expected to re-open after the Easter break.

But the City of Edinburgh Council said fresh concerns had been raised during remedial work at Oxgangs Primary on Friday.

It said Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP), which constructed the buildings and manages them on behalf of the council, was unable to give assurances that buildings built under the Public Private Partnership 1 (PPP1) were safe.


Luke McCullough, chairman of the Royal High School's Parent Council, said the immediate priority was how the council resolves the situation it finds itself in.

He said: "It's got pupils who are now three weeks away from sitting big exams - Highers, advanced Highers, and of course the new National Fives.

"So what arrangements are the council going to put in place for those students to get them doing something that's useful and working towards those exams as quickly as possible?"

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