‘Our schools are safe’ say council

Linlithgow Bridge Primary School was built with PPP money in 2001
Linlithgow Bridge Primary School was built with PPP money in 2001

West Lothian Council is reassuring parents that its PPP schools are safe and will not be closed following concerns over the safety of buildings.

All councils in Scotland are monitoring their school estates after 17 in Edinburgh – five high schools, ten primaries and two special schools – were shut on Friday due to issues over their construction, affecting around 9000 pupils.

The crisis has left families struggling to find childcare for their children as they have no schools to go to until temporary accommodation for pupils is found.

The schools in question were built with private money through PPP (Public Private Partnership) schemes, the same as what has built many in the West Lothian area – including the Linlithgow, Lowport and Linlithgow Bridge primaries in 2001.

Linlithgow and Lowport were both given refurbishments and extensions while Linlithgow Bridge was a new build.

The council say 45 per cent of its secondary school and four per cent of primary school stocks are PPP. These include Bathgate Academy

(refurb and extension), Broxburn Academy (refurb), Whitburn Academy (refurb) under PPP1 in 2001.

Under PPP3 in 2008/09 Deans Community High School and Armadale Academy were erected.

Teaching union the EIS has called for a review of all PPP contracts across Scotland with concerns over how structural defects and significant faults could be missed by building control scrutiny.

A West Lothian Council spokesman says none of the district’s schools were built by Miller Construction, the company behind the Edinburgh schools, and assessments were carried out earlier this year.

The spokesman said: “All schools in West Lothian are constructed to industry standards and, as far as can be reasonably ascertained, our school estate is structurally sound and in good condition.

“All schools are continually assessed, maintained and upgraded where necessary and this approach will continue.

“Following the incident at Oxgangs Primary School, Edinburgh in January this year appropriate steps were taken as a precautionary measure to assess the school estate in West Lothian.

“All schools in West Lothian remain open and there are no plans to close any schools in West Lothian.”

Structural problems at Oxgangs were first discovered when part of a wall blew down during Storm Gertrude in January.

The school was closed in March after an investigation found problems with its walls. Three more schools, all part of the same PPP1 contract, closed less than a week later.