Structural faults see 17 Edinburgh schools close

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Structural concerns have led to a number of schools across Edinburgh closing over safety fears…

A number of schools across Edinburgh have been closed after the private consortium involved in the construction and maintenance admitted the safety of the buildings may be in question.

The Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP) built the schools during the first round of public-private partnerships (PPP).

The City of Edinburgh Council ordered the schools to close following the identification of construction problems at Oxgangs and St Peter’s primaries last week.

Andrew Kerr, chief executive of the city council, said similar faults have been found at Gracemount High and Craigmount High schools.

Speaking to STV News, he said: “We have been carrying out checks over the weekend, and we have found similar problems at Gracemount and Craigmount High.

“We are waiting for a full report but repairs will need to be carried out. Further inspections are taking place this morning.”

The schools were built by Miller Construction under the PPP contract. Other buildings under the contract were also inspected as a result of the findings.

The firm was acquired by Galliford Try in 2014, who expressed support of the precautionary closure of the buildings.

A spokesperson said: “While the initial remedial work at Oxgangs Primary School has been completed successfully we have discovered an additional potential issue with the wall construction built by the former Miller Construction business in 2005.

“As a responsible contractor with a proud reputation throughout the UK, we value the safety of the children, the staff and the community above all else and support the council’s precautionary closures of those buildings that were also part of the PPP programme while further investigations take place.

“We will continue to work hard with our design team and all the stakeholders involved to remedy any issue that may arise during this further investigation as soon as possible.”

Detailed structural surveys are underway on the schools and will continue this week, with ESP stating it will accept “full financial responsibility” for resolving structural issues. It is thought this could cost several million pounds.

An ESP spokesperson said: “Edinburgh Schools Partnership will accept full financial responsibility for investigating and resolving these issues to ensure that each and every PPP1 school undergoes all necessary remedial work.”

Kerr said: “I sought assurances from Edinburgh Schools Partnership that their ongoing programme of inspections would give us the confidence to reopen our schools. I have offered to help them secure the necessary resources to complete this as quickly as possible.

“I also reminded them of their contractual and financial obligations and want to assure Edinburgh residents that they will not be left footing the bill.

“The safety of children and our staff is our main priority and I’m simply not willing to compromise on this.”

The closures will affect some 7,600 pupils. The schools involved are:

  • Braidburn School
  • 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
  • St Peters RC Primary

Checks are also being carried out by Glasgow City Council, where three of its PFI schools were built by Miller.

Four schools in Inverclyde were also built by Miller under the PPP scheme. A spokesperson for the council said: “We have instructed physical on-site inspections of the refurbished school which is managed by the council.

“Following dialogue with the PPP provider for the other four schools, arrangements are being finalised for them to carry out urgent inspections on those schools.

“While the early indications have been that the situation in Edinburgh is not expected to exist in our schools, we are clear that we require assurances through inspections that this is the case. Fortunately, our schools are currently closed for Spring break and don’t re-open until Tuesday.

“The surveys will be carried out during this period while the schools are closed to allow schools to re-open as normal. Given this is an emerging situation, we will be keeping that position under review and will inform parents immediately if it were to change.”

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