Tragic Keane’s school among four set for £150m refurb

Liberton High School. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Liberton High School. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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FOUR city schools could be rebuilt or renovated under new plans which could cost up to £150 million.

One of the four, Liberton High School, was the school where 12-year-old Keane Wallis-Bennett received fatal injuries after a wall collapsed on her in a changing room in April last year.

Keane Wallis-Bennett was killed when a free-standing wall collapsed on her. Picture: Hemedia

Keane Wallis-Bennett was killed when a free-standing wall collapsed on her. Picture: Hemedia

The gym was demolished in the aftermath of the tragedy and Edinburgh City Council pledged £2.5m for replacement facilities at the school.

A full structural examination of schools across Edinburgh was also rolled out.

Keane suffered fatal injuries in the incident involving a free-standing wall which acted as a partition when pupils were showering in the changing rooms.

Following the tragedy, the council confirmed it was surveying similar walls in use across the city as a precautionary measure.

Trinity Academy, Balerno Community High School and Wester Hailes Education Centre have all been shortlisted for possible demolition or upgrades.

It is understood as much as £150 million could be spent on the programme to improve the schools – but city chiefs last night admitted it could be years before any groundwork begins.

The move is part of a wider programme of long-term investment put in place by the council since 2000, with the previous stage – “wave three” – seeing new buildings constructed for James Gillespie’s, Portobello and Boroughmuir High Schools, as well as St John’s RC Primary School and St Crispin’s Special School.

Council bosses will now decide whether the four shortlisted schools in “wave four” will be refurbished or replaced entirely – at a cost of up to £40m per school.

In February this year a 12-year-old boy at Liberton High School was rushed to hospital after breaking his neck when the goalposts he was swinging on collapsed during a PE lesson.

But the latest council report – which will be discussed at a committee meeting this Thursday – noted refurbishment “may be the only choice” at some secondaries, such as Trinity and Balerno, where space is tight and an alternative site is unlikely to be an option.

Councillor Paul Godzik, the city’s education leader, admitted it could be up to a decade before the report’s recommendations are carried out and building work begins.

He said: “I’m delighted that this report is before the council. It’s absolutely vital to continue upgrading our schools.

“If you look at the facilities of new schools, for instance the James Gillespie’s teaching block, you can see that the design is improving.

“But nobody is saying this is a short process. Nobody is saying that this is a short-term fix. [But] we’ve made significant progress over recent years on school buildings, and it’s right that we start looking at our future priorities.”

Currie Community High School and Leith Academy were also considered as part of the Future Investment in the School Estate report but were ruled out for being “satisfactory” in “both condition and suitability”.

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com