Call for compulsory school building reports after 143 incidents in 24 months

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Pupils and teachers are being put at risk in Scotland’s schools with latest figures revealing at least 143 safety incidents over the past two years.

Events across the school estate include near misses involving walls collapsing, windows falling onto playgrounds, teachers being hit by ceiling tiles, loose concrete hitting pupils and football goalposts caving in.

Three of the incidents took place at Liberton High School in Edinburgh. Picture: Greg Macvean

Three of the incidents took place at Liberton High School in Edinburgh. Picture: Greg Macvean

Three of the incidents took place at Liberton High in Edinburgh, where 12-year-old Keane Wallis-Bennett died when a wall collapsed in 2014.

These included, in April this year, an incident where a heavy ceiling tile fell, landing near a pupil, with another falling and landing by a teacher.

At Clermiston primary, also in Edinburgh, a pupil was injured when a window fell in due to a gust of wind last year.

A similar incident occurred at a Glasgow school in September this year when a window fell approximately five metres to the playground”.

In Dumfries and Galloway at the newly-opened £28m North West Community Campus a pupil was trapped under a sliding partition door in August 2018 after it came off its runners. The school was forced to close after numerous safety incident in just a few weeks.

Other incidents include a pupil being struck by a metal panel from a roof in West Lothian, and a ceiling collapse in East Ayrshire.

The figures were obtained by a Freedom of Information request from 18 of Scotland’s 32 councils, submitted by the Scottish Conservatives. The exact figure is likely to higher as many councils fail to collect and publish the information.

Liz Smith, Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary, renewed her call for building reports to be included in school inspections.

“Each one of these incidents represents a risky situation that children or staff have been put in while at school.

“Children and staff must be safe at school, and the fabric of the school buildings must be maintained properly.

“Including building reports in school inspections is an obvious way to ensure that school buildings are fit for purpose and prevent any more avoidable accidents.”

A spokeswoman for the Educational Institute of Scotland , said the incidents were a “wake-up call”.

“Safety incidents in schools are a stark warning to all local authorities and those responsible for the construction and maintenance of our schools – that they must take action to ensure that all buildings are well-designed, properly-built and maintained to an extremely high standard.

This is not an area where corners or costs should ever be cut.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The health and safety of pupils is of paramount importance. All local authorities have a statutory responsibility to manage and maintain the school estate and provide a safe environment for young people and staff.

“In the current year, councils will receive a local government finance settlement of £10.7 billion. This will provide a real terms boost in both revenue and capital funding for public services, including education budgets.”