University offers to accommodate pupils of closed schools

Work continues on Oxgangs Primary School, Edinburgh.
Work continues on Oxgangs Primary School, Edinburgh.
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EDINBURGH University has offered use of its facilities to thousands of pupils affected by the sudden closure of 17 city schools.

Five high schools, ten primaries and two additional support needs schools were shut on Friday following the discovery of serious construction defects in two buildings.

Council chiefs said detailed structural surveys had been carried out over the weekend and will continue over the course of the coming week.

Surveys are focussing on secondary schools as a priority, with S4, S5 and S6 pupils at Gracemount, Craigmount, Firrhill, Drummond and Royal High all preparing for exams in the coming weeks.

Officials said they hoped a clear picture for these schools - including alternative arrangements if required - would be available by Tuesday.

And they insisted they were working to ensure that pupils from Oxgangs Primary, St Peter’s Primary and Braidburn Schools could continue to use alternative contingency arrangements put in place before the Easter break.

It is expected these alternative arrangements will be back up and running from Tuesday, subject to the necessary transport arrangements being put in place. Parents will be updated tomorrow.

Alternative arrangements for other schools are still being “actively looked into”.

But the council said it had received several offers of support from “partner organisations” across the city, including Edinburgh University.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has offered to provide additional structural engineers to help complete any necessary repair work.

As a result of the surveys on Friday last week, the Howdenhall Secure Unit stayed open as only the gym area was identified as needing remedial work.

Council chief executive Andrew Kerr said: “I today sought assurances from Edinburgh Schools Partnership that their ongoing programme of inspections would give us the confidence to reopen our schools.

“I have offered to help them secure the necessary resources to complete this as quickly as possible.

“I also reminded them of their contractual and financial obligations and want to assure Edinburgh residents that they will not be left footing the bill.

“The safety of children and our staff is our main priority and I’m simply not willing to compromise on this.

“I fully recognise the significant inconvenience to parents caused by these closures but I am sure they will understand why we had to take these steps.

“Officers are continuing to work on contingency arrangements and we will provide regular updates to parents and carers as and when further information becomes available.

“I am extremely grateful to those partner organisations who have come forward with offers of assistance and accommodation.”

All 17 of the affected schools were built or refurbished under the public private partnership (PPP1) agreement.

The Capital’s £360 million PPP1 deal - finalised in 2001 - created a PFI consortium called the Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP), which includes Miller Construction and the Bank of Scotland.

SCHOOLS AFFECTED: Braidburn, Broomhouse Primary, Castleview Primary, Craigour Park Primary, Craigmount High, Craigroyston Primary, Drummond Community High, Firrhill High, Forthview Primary, Gracemount High, Oxgangs Primary School, Pirniehill Primary, Rowanfield, Royal High, St David’s Primary, St Joseph’s Primary and St Peters RC Primary.