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School wall collapse probe reveals safety issues

Drummond Community High School, Edinburgh (Credit: Kim Traynor)
Drummond Community High School, Edinburgh (Credit: Kim Traynor)

11 April 2016 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal

The chief executive of the City of Edinburgh Council and senior education officials have met directors of the Edinburgh School Partnership (ESP) after the collapse of a wall at a local primary led to the closure of 17 schools in the area. 

Remedial works taking place on Friday at Oxgangs Primary School after a wall collapse uncovered new problems with the school’s construction. 

ESP’s technical experts were unable to give council officers sufficient guarantees that Oxgangs and other PPP1 schools were safe to open today (Monday). 

ESP is the body responsible for building, managing and operating the estate on behalf of the local authority.

Other premises that will be initially closed from today 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.

A spokeswoman for ESP said while remedial works were being carried out last week “a new issue came to light at two PPP1 schools – Oxgangs and St Peter’s – relating to an absence of header ties in sections of the building”.


She added: “The standard of construction carried out by the building contractor is completely unacceptable and we are now undertaking full structural surveys on all PPP1 schools to determine whether this issue is more widespread. For the safety of all pupils and staff, the schools will be closed while this work is under way.


“ESP will accept full financial responsibility for investigating and resolving these issues to ensure that each and every PPP1 school undergoes all necessary remedial work. 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.”

More detailed structural surveys, arranged by ESP, will carry on this week, with information updates as early as possible in respect of each school.

Council leader Councillor Andrew Burns said: “Clearly we have every right to expect these schools to have been built to a good standard and in accordance with industry practice. We now know this isn’t the case. ESP have let the council down but more importantly they have the let children, parents and staff of this city down.”

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.”

Miller Construction and Amey are a part of the ESP consortium in the 30-year PFI deal. Miller Construction designed and built the schools, and Amey is responsible for facilities management services including catering, cleaning, security and maintenance.