Council confirm independent inquiry into school closures

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The City of Edinburgh Council has confirmed that an independent inquiry into school closures will commence after the summer holidays.

Councillors on the Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee today, Tuesday 17 May, discussed an Edinburgh Schools report, which provided a detailed summary of the issue and of ongoing surveys and remedial works being carried out by the Edinburgh Schools Partnership.

The report also recommended that an independent senior figure be appointed to chair the inquiry. It is expected to cover all aspects of the closures although the specific terms of reference will be discussed with political group leaders later this week and agreed with the chair prior to getting underway.

Council leader Andrew Burns said:

It is important that we have an independent chair for this inquiry; one who commands respect within the construction industry.

The terms of reference will be thorough and we want the report to get to the heart of this issue and see what lessons can be learnt, not just here in Edinburgh, but across Scotland.

When the issue came to light, our first priority was safety of pupils and staff, the second was getting pupils back into education, the third is getting the schools reopened and it is not until this has happened that the inquiry will begin.

Naturally, we want the report to come back as quickly as possible and I would expect it to be complete in a matter of months. We want and deserve answers as to how this has happened – as do parents across the city.

Feedback is that the current exam arrangements are working well and I’m pleased to say we are still on schedule to have three schools reopening next week, five in June and the remaining nine by the middle of August for the start of the new term.

I want to thank parents once again for their patience and understanding and to recognise the ongoing flexibility and commitment of our head teachers and teaching staff.

Eight schools are expected to reopen in the coming weeks with Oxgangs Primary, St Peter’s and Braidburn being the first ones to reopen to pupils next Tuesday, 24 May. This means that over 4,000 pupils will be back in their schools before the end of the summer term.

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