Leader comment: Edinburgh school closure failure needs investigated

Oxgangs Primary School prior to reopening. Picture: TSPL

Oxgangs Primary School prior to reopening. Picture: TSPL

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For thousands of parents all over the city it means massive disruption in trying to find childcare and balance that with already busy working lives. For thousands of children all over the city it means disruption to their education. For high school pupils that could impact exams depending on how long the closures will last for.

Of course it is right and proper for the council to decide that the safety of pupils and staff must come first and they cannot be put at risk.

The schools were built under a public private partnership agreement – a highly controversial scheme. This was supposed to be a way of getting public buildings built at less cost to the public purse, but it was heavily criticised.

In this case, the council has laid the blame squarely on the partnership responsible for the building of the schools.

Council leader Andrew Burns said: “Clearly we have every right to expect these schools to have been built to a good standard and in accordance with industry practice. We now know this isn’t the case.”

That failure needs to be investigated thoroughly, so several things must happen now.

Parents need to be fully informed about childcare provision that can be made to help them, and they need to be kept up to date with what is happening to their schools and given estimates for 
reopening as soon as possible.

An inquiry needs to be set up to examine exactly what is wrong with these schools and where the responsibility for that fault lies. As well as the construction it would be thought that there must have been some inspection regime on planning and building control before sign off was given.

And then, and most importantly, those responsible should be held to account, and that would include making sure the citizens of Edinburgh do not suffer financial loss.