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Liberton death: Carry out checks, councils urged

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SEVERAL walls have been cordoned off at schools in Edinburgh following structural checks carried out after the death of a 12-year-old pupil.

Keane Wallis-Bennett was fatally injured when a free-standing wall collapsed on top of her at Liberton High School in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

Yesterday it was revealed that similar walls have been identified in nine changing rooms and toilets at Leith Academy and Castlebrae High School, as well as in 11 primary schools.

As a result, some areas have now been cordoned off as a precaution. But council officials said no concerns had been identified with the structure of any of the free-standing walls which had been identified.

Edinburgh City Council said teams had started inspecting all of its school schools on Wednesday and had now finished with this work.

Council chief executive Sue Bruce said officials would spend the coming days, including the Easter holiday period, determining if any action was required.

Ms Bruce said: “This has been a dreadful incident and my deepest sympathies, and those of my colleagues, are with the family and friends of Keane. The council has taken immediate action and we are determined to provide reassurance to

parents, pupils and the people of Edinburgh that we will do everything in our power to

prevent anything like this happening again.

“It is vitally important that we understand the cause of this tragedy and we are continuing to work closely with Police Scotland as part of their ongoing investigation.”

Liberton High School headteacher Stephen Kelly said everyone at the school had been “very distressed” by the death of Keane, whom he described as an “excellent pupil”.

Other local authorities across the country are being encouraged to carry out checks.

Education secretary Mike Russell said: “I’m sure every council is making every effort now to make sure that every building it has is suitable and fit for purpose.”

Yesterday, Scotland’s political leaders offered their condolences to Keane’s family.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, standing in for Alex Salmond at question time in Holyrood, said her thoughts were with those affected her death.

“On behalf of the entire chamber, can I express my sincere condolences to the friends and family of Keane Wallis-Bennett,” she said. “Keane’s death on Tuesday morning at Liberton High School is a tragedy that has horrified all of us.

“A thorough Police Scotland and Health and Safety Executive inquiry is, of course, now under way. City of Edinburgh Council chief executive Sue Bruce advises me that the council are co-operating fully with the inquiry.”

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said: “Right across the chamber, we share the sentiments expressed, at the saddest of times for the family, and for the school and for all concerned.”

Keane died at the school in the south of the Scottish capital when the “modesty wall” in the school’s PE block collapsed.

Headteacher Mr Kelly said she was “a bright and bubbly personality” who got on well with others.

The school will not reopen this week and a full council survey of Liberton High will be completed before pupils return from the Easter holidays in three weeks.

Dozens of bright flowers, cuddly toys, cards and handwritten letters were placed under the entrance sign to Liberton High by fellow pupils, family and friends.

In a statement released through Police Scotland, the schoolgirl’s family said: “She was our princess who dreamed of being prime minister.”

 

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