THE state of Scotland’s school buildings should be included in all inspection reports following the death of a pupil at an Edinburgh secondary, it has been claimed.
Liz Smith, the Scottish Conservatives’ spokeswoman for young people, has written to education secretary Mike Russell to ask the Scottish Government to consider a change to include the quality and fabric of schools as part of Education Scotland’s independent assessments.
It follows the death of 12-year-old Keane Wallis-Bennett, who was killed when a wall collapsed on her in a school changing room on 1 April.
Subsequent inspection of other schools identified similar walls in changing rooms and toilets at Leith Academy and Castlebrae High School, as well as in 11 primary schools across Edinburgh. Some were cordoned off as a precaution while safety checks were carried out.
Ms Smith said: “It has struck me for some time that the Education Scotland inspection process could be improved if there was the facility for inspectors to comment on school accommodation as well as on learning and teaching, should they deem this necessary.
“I have written to the cabinet secretary for education, Mike Russell, to ask the Scottish Government to consider a change to include the quality and fabric of schools as part of Education Scotland’s independent inspection of schools in the future.”
Miles Briggs, Conservative candidate for Edinburgh South, added: “The tragic death of Keane Wallis-Bennett at Liberton High School should never have happened and it is clear that a more stringent inspection framework must be put in place in Scotland.
“Unlike in the case of Ofsted in England, Education Scotland currently do not report on the standard and quality of the structure of the school. There is now a serious case for Education Scotland to include inspection of the quality and fabric of schools during the course of a school inspection.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Every child should feel safe from harm at school and in their community, and local authorities have a statutory responsibility to maintain their schools to a safe and sufficient standard.
“While investigations continue, people will rightly expect that any wider lessons which emerge from the tragic incident at Liberton High School would be learnt and acted upon. That is something that all of us involved in education – the Scottish Government included – will work to ensure happens.”
They added that details of building conditions across Scotland are reported annually, based on surveys by local authorities. According to government figures, the most recent report identified that the proportion of schools reported as being in good or satisfactory condition in 2013 was 82 per cent, compared to 61 per cent in April 2007.
They also showed that youngsters educated in schools in “poor” or “bad” condition had fallen from 37 per cent of all pupils in 2007 to just 16 per cent by last year.