Councils Urged To Check School Structures

Scottish Government officials have asked all councils across Scotland to conduct "any necessary checks'' following the shock closure of 17 Edinburgh schools on safety grounds.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon chaired an emergency meeting of the government's resilience committee on Saturday after Edinburgh City Council announced it would close the schools from Monday.

The closures were prompted over fears all schools built under the same private finance contract could pose a safety risk and politicians are calling for a review of all similar deals.

Education secretary Angela Constance said: "While this is primarily an issue for the council, the First Minister and I have spoken to the council leadership and offered the Scottish Government's full support to keep disruption to children's education at an absolute minimum.

"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.''

Edinburgh City Council announced on Friday that 17 schools and a neighbourhood centre would be shutting because Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP), which operates the schools, could not provide safety assurances.

The problems were first discovered in January when a wall blew off Oxgangs Primary in high winds and a subsequent investigation found serious structural issues with the building's walls.

The council closed the school and three others within a week, but on Friday, contractors carrying out remedial works at Oxgangs found new problems, raising concerns all 17 schools built under the same PFI contract were at risk and resulting in city-wide closures from Monday onwards.

Politicians are now calling for a review of similar contracts across the country.


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