Education chiefs reap poor mark in school repair audit

Parents at Bruntsfield Primary school are sceptical of the council's promises on maintenance issues. Picture: Jon Savage
Parents at Bruntsfield Primary school are sceptical of the council's promises on maintenance issues. Picture: Jon Savage
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A MAJOR probe into the way vital school repairs are carried out has revealed a catalogue of failures.

But, responding to the independent audit of its failing schools maintenance programme, council chiefs have promised “fundamental change” in the way they are carried out in future.

Problems ranging from management and communication breakdowns to IT issues and delays causing work to spill over into term time have been outlined in a hard-hitting review by city property bosses and their key suppliers.

The review findings are sure to spark concern among parents and teachers given the “significant” sums education leaders admit they need to carry out outstanding repairs on city classrooms. Last month we revealed the bill is expected to run to “tens of millions”. Council chiefs said they were well on the way to implementing a package of management improvements aimed at upping ­performance from 2014-15.

But parent leaders said they are sceptical. Antonis Giannopoulos, chairman of Bruntsfield Primary Parent Council, said: “I don’t want to say everything is terrible but on the other hand I would be a bit sceptical at how this change is being implemented and I would need to see proper evidence of these processes and what they are.

“We need to have clear and better inspection procedures. Parents could be part of the process. They could be informed and involved in discussions of reports so they are aware of possible issues.”

As well as management failures in 2012-13, the review outlines steps to boost effectiveness this year and a series of suggestions contributing to “fundamental change” in maintenance works ahead of the next ­session.

Mr Giannopoulos said an annual system of rigorous building inspections for all of Edinburgh’s schools would be crucial to the programme.

“Things need to be properly inspected, especially on old school buildings,” he said. “If you don’t have proactive ­maintenance, the costs will end up being a lot more.”

A council spokesman said plans for the 2014-15 ­programme are “progressing well” following the review.

He said: “Many of the ­recommendations are already in place for next year and these will be developed to ensure we are delivering continuous improvement.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com