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Students return to all 17 PFI Edinburgh schools following repairs

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Pupils at the 17 PFI-built Edinburgh schools closed earlier this year due to building defects have returned to their classrooms today (Wednesday) for the start of the new academic year

The final two schools – Drummond Community High and The Royal High – were handed back to the City of Edinburgh Council last week following remedial works by the Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP).

The 17 schools, built by ESP in 2005 under a public private partnership (PPP) contract, were closed in April after faults were found at Oxgangs Primary School during work to repair a wall, which had collapsed during Storm Gertrude in January.

Building defaults were then found across all 17 schools under the contract. 

Council leader Andrew Burns said: ‘We stressed to the Edinburgh Schools Partnership that they should bring forward school reopening dates where possible, which has happened.

‘Our priority has always been the safety of our pupils and staff, and we insisted that ESP and their contractors ensure all our schools are 100 per cent safe to reopen. All the relevant paperwork has been published on our website, having been reviewed by an independent expert on behalf of the council.’

In June, the local authority appointed procurement industry expert John Cole to lead an independent inquiry to establish what went wrong with the schools and what lessons could be learnt. 

Missing wall ties have been identified as an issue, and a BBC investigation discovered that 13 other schools in Scotland had experienced similar problems. It found that, in the last five years, repairs had been carried out in South Lanarkshire, Stirlingshire, Glasgow and East Renfrewshire. 

The Edinburgh school closures affected 7,600 pupils, with more than 5,000 relocated to more than 70 different schools and education facilities in the three months up to the start of the summer holidays. 

PFI capital value of schools

PFI capital value of schools

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