Critics accuse school operator of complacency over safety closures

Detailed tests will take place at Firrhill High and Braidburn School over the weekend, with Firrhill expected to reopen on Monday. Picture: TSPL
Detailed tests will take place at Firrhill High and Braidburn School over the weekend, with Firrhill expected to reopen on Monday. Picture: TSPL
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THE body operating four city schools which were suddenly closed amid safety fears has been accused of complacency and dismissiveness.

St Peter’s RC and Oxgangs primaries, Firrhill High and Braidburn School were shut earlier this week after inspections raised doubt over whether they would be completely safe in bad weather.

All four were built by the same contractors under the Public Private Partnership (PPP1) agreement. Leaders at Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP), who run the sites on behalf of the city council, have confirmed assessments and repairs are being carried out.

St Peter’s RC and Oxgangs primaries will stay closed until the end of the Easter holidays.

Three more Edinburgh schools closed amid safety fears

Detailed tests will take place at Firrhill High and Braidburn School over the weekend, with Firrhill expected to reopen on Monday.

If Braidburn has to remain shut, other accommodation will be found for pupils and staff.

Oxgangs was also closed temporarily in January after tonnes of masonry were blown off its wall during a storm.

A spokeswoman for ESP said: “Edinburgh Schools Partnership is carrying out extensive surveys and assessing the external walls of all schools built as part of the council’s PPP1 programme and will arrange for any necessary remedial work to be carried out as soon as possible.

“Our priority is to carry out and complete these remedial works safely and efficiently.”

A spokeswoman for Galliford Try, representing contractor Miller Group Limited, said: “The schools were built more than ten years ago by the former Miller Construction business which we acquired in 2014.

“We are working closely with both the Edinburgh Schools Partnership and City of Edinburgh Council to identify any possible building defects related to the four schools.”

The comments have sparked anger among opposition figures.

Councillor Melanie Main, Green education spokeswoman, said: “I’m disappointed by these complacent and bland statements. It is right that the companies who built and managed these schools through now-ditched private funding, focus on putting any defects right. But I’d also expect to see some recognition of the anxiety and sheer hassle for the school communities affected and also a willingness to shoulder responsibility if faults are found.”

Conservative councillor Jason Rust said: “The responses seem slightly dismissive in terms of the wider issues. We need to have a clear idea going ahead of what action the council, through ESP, will be taking, because parents and staff would like answers.”

Scottish Government officials said they had sought and received assurances that alternative arrangements would be made for affected pupils.