Urgent Repairs At Some Edinburgh Schools

12 April 2016, 07:15 | Updated: 12 April 2016, 07:16

Urgent repairs will need to be carried out at some of the 17 Edinburgh schools forced to close due to safety fears over the buildings.

Around 7,000 primary and secondary school children will spend a second day away from the classroom after they were unable to return following the Easter holidays.

The 10 primaries, five secondaries and two additional support needs schools were shut amid concerns about the standard of construction.

They will remain closed while detailed structural surveys and any repair work required takes place.

The schools were all built or refurbished under the same public private partnership schemes leading to questions over the use of the contracts.

The closures came after workers repairing serious structural issues at one city primary found ''further serious defects'' in the building on Friday.

Edinburgh Schools Partnership, which operates the schools, could not provide safety assurances and the local authority made the decision to shut them from Monday.

The city council said early indications suggest the issue that prompted the decision has been identified in other buildings but officials were unable to confirm the extent of this.

However, it is understood Gracemount and Craigmount high schools, as well as Oxgangs and St Peter's primary schools, need repairs.

Council officials said the aim was to have all primary school pupils back in classrooms by next Tuesday, as Monday is the Spring Holiday.

Alternative arrangements will possibly in place by Wednesday in some cases.

The local authority said ''significant work'' had already taken place to make sure the 2,000 pupils in years S4, S5 and S6 affected will be accommodated in high schools in the city.

Senior pupils from Firrhill, Drummond and Royal High schools will be able to return to their own schools on Wednesday as these three schools only had partial refurbishments as part of the PPP project, it said.

An update for S4, S5 and S6 pupils at Gracemount and Craigmount will be made on Tuesday while work continues to identify alternative arrangements for all S1 to S3 pupils in the five high schools.

Offers of support to accommodate pupils have come from a range of organisations, including Hibernian Football Club, the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh University and NHS Lothian as well as various community groups.

Andrew Kerr, Edinburgh City Council chief executive, said: ''We have plans in place to ensure all primary and special school pupils will be back in schools by Monday of next week subject to the council getting access to the closed schools.

''Our focus is very much on getting our school children back into education as soon as possible. That remains our priority, particularly for those pupils preparing to sit their exams in May."

Scotland's largest teaching union, the Educational Institute of Scotland, has called for a review of all PPP contracts in Scotland and the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association questioned ''the cost to our children'' of such deals.

A Government spokeswoman said: ''The Scottish Government has offered its full support to City of Edinburgh Council to keep disruption to children's education at an absolute minimum and has written to all local authorities to ask them to carry out any necessary checks on their own estate as soon as possible.''