Schools closures: Independent inquiry will start after holidays

Councillor Andrew Burns visits Drummond High School as school kids get back to lessons. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
Councillor Andrew Burns visits Drummond High School as school kids get back to lessons. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
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AN INDEPENDENT inquiry into the closure of 17 schools in Edinburgh due to safety fears will start after the school holidays.

Edinburgh City Council leader Andrew Burns said he wants the inquiry to find out what lessons can be learnt “not just here in Edinburgh, but across Scotland”.

The schools, built under the same public private partnership project between 2002 and 2005, closed in April after investigations found structural defects centring on missing wall ties.

Alternative arrangements were put in place for 7,600 pupils and 740 nursery children.

Three schools are expected to reopen next week, when declared safe, five more in June and a further nine after the summer holidays.

A report put before members of the council’s corporate policy and strategy committee on Tuesday gave an update on the situation and plans for an inquiry.

• READ MORE: Structural problems force partial closure of Scottish school

The report said: “Early indications are that this remains a construction quality matter as opposed to one relating to a design defect or the operating model employed.”

Mr Burns said: “It is important that we have an independent chair for this inquiry - one who commands respect within the construction industry.

“The terms of reference will be thorough and we want the report to get to the heart of this issue and see what lessons can be learnt, not just here in Edinburgh, but across Scotland.

“When the issue came to light, our first priority was safety of pupils and staff, the second was getting pupils back into education, the third is getting the schools reopened, and it is not until this has happened that the inquiry will begin.

“Naturally, we want the report to come back as quickly as possible and I would expect it to be complete in a matter of months.

“We want and deserve answers as to how this has happened - as do parents across the city.”

The specific terms of reference for the inquiry will be discussed with political group leaders later this week and agreed with the chairperson before the inquiry starts.

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