More problems discovered at Edinburgh schools

Balerno High School. Picture: Andrew Stuart
Balerno High School. Picture: Andrew Stuart
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FRESH problems have been unearthed at Edinburgh’s schools as the council pushes ahead with a £45.7 million investment plan to bring them up to scratch.

Balerno High and Trinity Academy have both had their conditions downgraded from a “satisfactory” to “poor” following surveys carried out last year.

Officials also found urgent problems with stonework at Sciennes, Leith and Leith Walk primary schools – as well as “catastrophic boiler failure” at Leith Academy and Prestonfield Primary.

The findings come amid a six-year emergency investment plan to bring all of the Capital’s schools up to a satisfactory standard by 2019.

Meanwhile, thousands of pupils are still displaced across the city following the shock closure of 17 schools operated by a private finance consortium earlier this year.

Funds have already been pumped into building new facilities for James Gillespie’s, Boroughmuir and Portobello high schools, and the council is now pushing on with the next stage of its plans – dubbed “Wave 4” – to revamp other schools.

But a report due to go before councillors next Tuesday admits a lack of cash for maintenance means “further deterioration” is likely over time.

And it adds a number of community centres are also in a “poorer condition than previously reported”, including Inch, Craigentinny, Juniper Green and Gracemount Youth Centre.

We told earlier how Inch Community Centre faces being shut and sold off to a private developer amid claims vital repairs would cost around £1m to complete.

The latest report also reveals Benmore Outdoor Centre, which is operated by the council, was downgraded from “satisfactory” to “poor” following a survey carried out last April.

Inspectors warned the building’s mechanical and electrical services were “at risk of imminent failure”.

But Wester Hailes Education Centre had its condition upgraded from “poor” to “satisfactory” following improvement works – with an extra £3m added to its repairs budget.

Councillor Paul Godzik, the city’s education leader, said he was “pushing for more funding” to become available to invest in schools.

But he said he was “pleased overall” with the city’s progress in improving the condition of buildings, and insisted councillors were “acutely aware that the schools estate needs substantial investment”. He said: “I think what [the report] shows is that we are on track in terms of trying to get all our schools up to a grade B [“satisfactory”] standard by 2019.”

alistair.grant@jpress.co.uk