Edinburgh schools shut after remedial works on one revealed construction problems

A total of 17 schools in Edinburgh have remained closed over safety fears about their construction.

Edinburgh council said detailed structural surveys are underway on the schools after remedial works on one of them – Oxgangs Primary School – uncovered new issues relating to its construction.

The schools – which comprise 10 primary schools, five secondary schools and two special schools – were built under a public private partnership 1 (PPP1) contract by the Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP).

On advice from ESP, the council took the precautionary measure to close all 17 PPP1 schools from today while the surveys are carried out.

ESP is a PFI consortium led by Amey and Miller Construction, which was acquired by Galliford Try in July 2014.

The 30-year PFI contract, which saw Amey Asset Services manage the design-and-build with Miller, is worth £360m over its lifetime with Edinburgh council paying £12m a year to the consortium.

Amey and Miller won the contract in 2001 and the schools were completed in 2005.

The council said the surveys are now focusing on secondary schools as a priority, with pupils in three of the schools preparing for exams in the coming weeks.

The affected secondary schools are Gracemount, Craigmount, Firrhill, Drummond and Royal High.

It added that a clearer picture on the state of the secondary schools will be provided by Thursday.

Edinburgh council chief executive Andrew Kerr said: “I today (Sunday) sought assurances from Edinburgh Schools Partnership that their ongoing programme of inspections would give us the confidence to reopen our schools.

“I have offered to help them secure the necessary resources to complete this as quickly as possible.”

Kerr added that he has reminded ESP of its “contractual and financial obligations” to “assure Edinburgh residents that they will not be left footing the bill.”

In a statement, Galliford Try said: “Through its acquisition of Miller Construction, Galliford Try has contractual responsibility for four of the seventeen schools. Remedial work required to remedy defects in those four schools is nearing completion and the costs are not material to the group.

“Galliford Try takes its role as a responsible contractor very seriously and the safety of the pupils and staff is paramount.”