Report into Edinburgh school closures published

An independent report into the closure of 17 Edinburgh schools has been published.

City of Edinburgh Council chief executive Andrew Kerr commissioned the School Closures Report last year after a wall at Oxgangs Primary School collapsed, leading to the closure of 17 schools.

The 250-plus page report found that the wall collapsed due to “poor construction and inadequate supervision” and that the issues identified in Edinburgh “are likely to be more widespread”.

Other key findings include “insufficient independent quality assurance and poor record keeping by City of Edinburgh Council and Edinburgh Schools Partnership” and “ineffective quality assurance measures within the construction industry”.

Professor John Cole CBE led the report and, in compiling it, interviewed a range of people including representatives from those who built the schools, architects, ESP, structural engineers, former and current council staff, teachers and parents.

The report contains recommendations for City of Edinburgh Council, as well as other public and private bodies, and the construction industry on areas such as procurement, construction, training and recruitment, the role of building standards and independent certifiers and the sharing of information.

Andrew Kerr will now draw up an action plan on the report’s Council-specific recommendations.

Mr Kerr commented, “Professor Cole commands respect in both construction and procurement fields which has been borne out in the thoroughness and quality of his independent investigation and the report before Council today.

“We set out clear and thorough terms of reference so he could identify the reasons for the wall collapse at Oxgangs and the subsequent building faults that forced us to close the 17 schools.

“The report pulls no punches and makes clear what went wrong, the reasons for it and where responsibility lay.  Clearly there are lessons for the Council and I will now be drawing up an action plan to take our recommendations forward to ensure everyone can have confidence in the safety of all of our buildings.

“The Council, our public and private sector partners both in Scotland and across the United Kingdom, need to take on board the issues raised and address the concerns highlighted in the report as they have far-reaching implications for the construction industry.”

He added, “As always, our overriding priority was the safety of the pupils and staff and I am pleased that Professor Cole recognises that our decision to close the schools was well founded and that he acknowledged the scale of the alternative educational arrangements required – and ultimately delivered.

“I want to thank parents once again for their patience last year and the outstanding efforts of teachers and other Council staff who pulled out all the stops to ensure our children’s education could continue.

“I would also like to thank Professor Cole and his team for their hard work on this important inquiry.  We must ensure that the highest possible standards are adhered to when it comes to future construction projects and ensure that nothing like this can happen again.”