Council demands assurance 
PFI funded schools are safe

Graeme High School was one of the Falkirk schools to be built using public private money
Graeme High School was one of the Falkirk schools to be built using public private money

Falkirk Council is still awaiting guarantees privately funded schools in the district are safe after asking for “immediate” assurances earlier this week.

The call came in the wake of the crisis at a total of 17 PPP (Public Private Partnership) schools in Edinburgh which were closed due to faults in construction last Friday.

The schools were built with PPP (Public Private Partnership) finance, similar to the PFI scheme in the Falkirk district which includes Graeme, Braes, Larbert and Bo’ness high schools and Carrongrange School in Stenhousemuir, for children with assisted support needs, by the Class98 (Semperian) consortium.

Falkirk, Denny, Grangemouth and St Mungo’s were all constructed using the NPDO (Non-Profit Distributing Organisation) scheme by consortium Gateway, comprising of three companies – Ogilvie Group, FES and King Builders.

All councils were instructed to check their school estates this week and as the consortiums own the localPFI/NPDO schools, it is their responsibility to maintain them.

A council spokesperson said: “The safety of pupils and staff in our schools is always our greatest concern. We have asked for immediate assurances from the companies involved in the running and construction of the schools that the schools are safe and structurally sound.”

A spokesperson for Ogilvie said: “Ogilvie Construction is working with Falkirk Council and Falkirk Schools Gateway Ltd to address any questions that have been posed by the Scottish Government.”

MP calls for ‘full transparency’

None of the PFI/NPDO financed schools in the Falkirk district were built by the companies which were behind the Edinburgh primary and secondary school buildings.

Falkirk MP John McNally says he will call on independent contractors to ensure ‘“full transparency for the good of the public” over safety concerns.

He said: “I was opposed to the use of PFI and I will be pressing for an in-depth look at the schools situation in Falkirk.

“The public must know what’s going on as potential closures impact negatively on parents’ working life as well as children’s education, which is unacceptable.

“I will be keen to see the report regarding the construct and fabric of the school buildings in our area.”