Policy & Public Affairs


Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Construction of Edinburgh Schools

Date: 09/02/17

Professor John Cole

Chair of the Inquiry


The School Closures Report was commissioned by Chief Executive Andrew Kerr last summer after the collapse of a wall at Oxgangs Primary School and subsequent closure of 17 schools in Ebinburgh.

It was led by respected construction and procurement industry expert, Professor John Cole CBE.

The inquiry had nine remits, which included:

  • reasons for the wall collapse;
  • use of private finance for building projects;
  • the Council’s role in providing quality assurance of the buildings;
  • contractual arrangements between the Council and Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP) who manage and run the schools on the Council’s behalf; and
  • any recommendations for the Council, other bodies and the wider industry.

Professor Cole interviewed a wide range of people for the report including: representatives from those who built the schools, ESP, architects, structural engineers, parents, teachers and former and current Council staff from various departments. He also took evidence from professionals and experts in the procurement and construction industries.

Some of the key findings from the report, which runs to over 250 pages, include:

  • the collapse of the wall was due to poor construction and inadequate supervision;
  • insufficient independent quality assurance and poor record keeping by the Council and ESP;
  • ineffective quality assurance measures within the construction industry;
  • the Council made the correct decision to close the 17 schools;
  • the alternative education arrangements put in place for over 8,300 pupils was a ‘remarkable feat’;
  • the issues identified in Edinburgh are likely to be more widespread

The report contains many recommendations for the Council and other bodies, both public and private, as well as the construction industry.  These relate to areas such as: procurement, construction, training and recruitment, the role of the building standards and independent certifiers and the sharing of information.