Call to build Liberton campus after girl’s death

Keane Wallis-Bennett. Picture: contributed
Keane Wallis-Bennett. Picture: contributed
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PARENTS at the school where a 12-year-old pupil was killed by a collapsing wall have called for a replacement campus to be built so families can move on from the tragedy.

Liberton High’s parent ­council has urged education leaders to fast-track a phased extension of the school’s building and include it in the next wave of replacement construction works.

The plea comes after a changing room wall collapsed on April 1, killing pupil Keane Wallis-Bennett while she was getting ready for PE.

Parent representatives told yesterday’s full council meeting that the pupils had suffered symptoms including sleep loss, depression, claustrophobia and thoughts of suicide since the tragedy.

Derek McNeill, deputy chair of Liberton’s parent council, said: “Our long-term goal is to be part of the new building programme, and ultimately build a new school to ensure our community can psychologically move on, to give our parents every confidence in their child’s wellbeing.

“We want to create a permanent memorial as part of these works to a girl no-one in the school community will ever ­forget, Keane Wallis-Bennett.”

The comments were made as councillors met to rubber-stamp plans for a £2.5 million extension of the school’s main PE block, with Scottish Government ministers set to foot two-thirds of the estimated bill.

Parents at Liberton said they were working hard to rebuild its reputation in the wake of April’s tragedy and put it “back at the heart” of the local community. “We want to enhance the school’s reputation and make it our community’s first education choice,” said Mr McNeill.

“To achieve this, we would like Liberton High School to become a community hub – starting with a venue that can be used not just during school hours but for the health and wellbeing of the wider community.”

City chiefs have agreed to investigate options for accelerating the work but warned changes could have an impact on funding secured from housing developers, who would contribute to new schools.

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “There are real aspirations within the school community, within the wider community, and I think the council recognises that.

“There are numbers coming through in terms of pupil numbers – there will be an increase in demand, not just in the Liberton catchment area but across the wider area.”

He added: “If we were to allocate funding, it could put at risk that funding being clawed back from developers and that’s a risk we as a council have to recognise when making the decision.”