Parents’ fury at decision to close Oxgangs Primary at short notice

The damage at Oxgangs Primary. Picture: Toby Williams

The damage at Oxgangs Primary. Picture: Toby Williams

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PARENTS have reacted with anger after a city school was closed suddenly for repairs.

Pupils at Oxgangs Primary have been transferred to alternative locations for lessons, with the school expected to reopen on April 11.

Education leaders said on Tuesday that the building would close until after the Easter holidays.

They said the decision was made and announced within hours of receiving survey advice which raised doubt over whether the site would be completely safe in bad weather.

An inspection has also revealed there were issues with how the school’s external wall was erected during construction about ten years ago.

The school was shut temporarily in January after masonry was blown off in stormy weather.

Parents, who were updated by letter yesterday, have voiced concern over the possibility that children were being taught in a dangerous environment.

Mother Gail Redpath, 44, who has twin girls in P7 at Oxgangs Primary, said: “I am obviously concerned as to the circumstances as to why the school has been closed so urgently.

“In reading the email sent, it is a ‘precautionary’ measure, well if this is the case then why the urgency? Couldn’t the school closure wait until next Monday so that parents can get organised?

“If this couldn’t wait due to safety concerns, then one must ask how safe have our children been attending this school over the last few weeks?

“This in-depth survey should have been carried out in January when this first happened and not now – it’s unacceptable that our children’s safety could have been in jeopardy.”

Opposition figures said they shared parents’ concern.

Gavin Corbett, Green councillor for Fountainbridge-Craiglockhart, said: “While I am sure that the education department gives top priority to safety, the fact is that children have been attending the school over the six weeks since the storm damage. So the council needs to be open and honest about why there’s a sudden change of tack.”

Oxgangs councillor Jason Rust, of the city’s Conservatives, said: “The impact that the previous closure and this new closure have had on parents and pupils is immense and there is a strong feeling around the communication of this decision.

“There is a lack of clarity as to the reasons for the closure and we need to understand more fully the scope of the problems and what the risk assessment actually says. Parents want the council to be more up-front with them.

“The safety of pupils and staff is obviously paramount but concerns have also been raised as to why the entire school needs to close for these works to be undertaken.”

In his letter to families, Andy Gray, head of schools at the city council, said: “Although the technical specialists who carried out the surveys advised that the school could remain open in normal weather conditions, I was not prepared to take any risk with the health and safety of the pupils and staff and therefore made the decision to close the school.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com