Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Urgent work needed on Edinburgh schools closed due to safety fears

Oxgangs Primary School Image copyright PA
Image caption Concerns were first raised by the collapse of a wall at Oxgangs Primary School

Urgent work will be required on several of the 17 Edinburgh schools which were closed due to safety fears.

The city council confirmed that the 10 primaries affected will remain closed for the rest of the week.

Contingency plans are being put in place for the five high schools with pupils being phased back to the classroom from Wednesday onwards.

All the schools in question were constructed under the same public private partnership contract.

They were built by Miller Construction, which was acquired by Galliford Try in 2014.

It has been confirmed that Gracemount and Craigmount high schools, plus Oxgangs and St Peter's primary schools, will need urgent repairs before opening their doors once more.

Every Scottish council has either carried out or is going to carry out surveys of school buildings that could be affected.

Edinburgh Council hoped that all primary and special needs pupils would be able to return by the start of next week.

However, the 7,000 youngsters affected on Monday will remain off school on Tuesday.

Officials said that "significant work" had been undertaken to ensure that 2,000 S4, S5 and S6 pupils would be accommodated as soon as possible.

  • Firrhill, Drummond and Royal High Schools - Years S4 to S6 will be able to return to their own schools on Wednesday
  • Gracemount and Craigmount High schools - An update for years S4 to S6 will be made on Tuesday

Alternative arrangements will need to be worked out for all S1 to S3 pupils.

Edinburgh University, the Scottish Parliament, community groups, venues and private sector companies have all offered help.

The local authority confirmed that structural surveys would continue to be carried out this week.

Image caption An inspector carries out work at Oxgangs Primary School
Image caption The building work, carried out by Miller Construction, is being closely inspected

The closure of the schools, which are about 10 years old, was prompted after workers repairing serious structural issues at one city primary found "further serious defects" with the building on Friday.

Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP), which operates the schools, could not provide safety assurances and that is why the 17 schools remained closed after the holidays.

What are parents and pupils saying?

Lindsay Cairns' daughter is in primary one at Oxgangs Primary School.

She said: "I don't know if I'm going to have to have time off next week to look after her.

"I've spoken to my manager. We have to wait and see what the council are going to come back with.

"I'd like to think there's going to be an update and a contingency plan put in place but to me I'd rather have had that contingency plan before now."

Image caption The Bhandari family are being affected by the closure of schools due to safety fears

Rachel Bhandari's son is nine years old and has cerebral palsy. His special school is closed until further notice.

She and her husband have spent the weekend trying to organise childcare as they both work.

Ms Bhandari said: "It presents us with a really big difficulty really. We were expecting the school to be open.

"We were told earlier in the week that it was going to be open and then just to find out on Friday that it's not is a nightmare."

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.

Image caption Amy is a pupil at Firrhill High School

Amy, 16, a pupil at Firrhill High School, told BBC Scotland: "It's quite disruptive because we need to finish the coursework and we need to do unit assessments, and they were meant to be happening this week but now they'll have to be done later.

"It's been open for 10 years, the part of the building that was built, and it hasn't fallen down yet. There's no storm just now. Nothing's going to happen."

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