Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Edinburgh school closures: Architect to lead independent inquiry

John Cole Image copyright Edinburgh Council

An architect has been appointed to lead an independent inquiry into the Edinburgh school crisis.

John Cole has overseen major public building projects in the health sector in Northern Ireland and is an industry expert in construction and procurement.

Seventeen schools in the capital were forced to close in April after concerns over their construction.

About 3,000 pupils remain displaced. They will return to their own schools after the summer holidays.

Lessons learned

Andrew Kerr, City of Edinburgh Council's chief executive, said: "I am pleased to have brought on board an expert of John's calibre to head this independent inquiry as he commands respect in both construction and procurement fields.

"His track record speaks for itself and I am sure parents and everyone else who has been affected by the issues over the past five months will take comfort from the extensive knowledge and experience that John brings to the role.

"The clear and thorough terms of reference, drafted in consultation with the political group leaders, set out exactly what we are aiming to achieve through this inquiry. Clearly, we want to find out what went wrong with these schools and are determined to see what lessons can be learned, not just here in Edinburgh but across Scotland and the UK."

Image caption Part of the wall at Oxgangs Primary was blown down

It was announced earlier this week that four primary schools, Pirniehall, St David's, Broomhouse and St Joseph's, will now open on Monday 20 June.

Pupils from Rowanfield School will also return earlier than planned on Monday 27 June.

About 900 pupils from Oxgangs and St Peter's Primary Schools and Braidburn School returned to their own buildings last month.

Firrhill High School fully reopened on schedule last week.

Pupils at remaining primary schools - Craigour Park, Forthview, Craigroyston and Castleview - will return after the summer break, as will Craigmount, Gracemount, Drummond and Royal High Schools.

About 7,600 primary and secondary school children in the capital were affected when the schools, which were all built or refurbished as part of the same public private partnership (PPP) scheme, were closed suddenly in April.

The problem became apparent following an investigation when part of a wall at Oxgangs Primary was blown down during stormy weather.

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