Expert group charged with making Scotland’s school buildings safer


An expert group will oversee efforts to make school buildings safer in Scotland, following the death of a 12-year-old girl last year after a wall fell on her.

The group, set up by the government and comprising architects and surveyors as well as education directors and local authorities, will seek to improve the way councils assess and report on the condition of their buildings across Scotland.

Keane Wallis-Bennett was killed by a collapsing gym wall at Liberton High in Edinburgh. Pupils had reportedly told staff about the wall being “wobbly” several weeks before she died.

The Health and Safety Executive is still investigating the incident but the gym has been demolished.

Education secretary Angela Constance said: “We want all our children and young people to learn in good quality schools that are safe and fit for purpose and we are working hard to ensure that is the case across the country.

“This review will ensure local authorities have up-to-date and clear guidance on how to accurately and reliably assess the condition of their school estate and I look forward to hearing the group’s recommendations later this year.”

By 2020, more than 100 schools will have been rebuilt or refurbished across Scotland through the 

£1.8 billion Schools for the Future programme, Ms Constance added.

The expert group will review existing guidance that sets out how local authorities should assess and report the condition of their school estates. Its recommendations on improving that guidance will be reported to the government this autumn.

More than 400 schools remain in a “poor” condition, and a further 16 are rated as “bad”, according to figures released last year.

However, the proportion of schools rated in a “good” or “satisfactory” condition has risen to 83 per cent in the last eight years and the number of pupils in poor or bad buildings is less than half its previous total. 

A spokesman for the Educational Institute of Scotland, said the condition of schools had improved lately “after many years of under-investment”.

“There have been substantial and successful programmes of school building and refurbishment since devolution, under the successive Scottish administrations.” 

But he welcomed the launch of the national review to help ensure that all pupils and teachers were working in up-to-date, safe and secure modern buildings.



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