John Cole CBE to chair independent inquiry into Edinburgh school closures
The City of Edinburgh Council has confirmed that respected construction and procurement industry expert John Cole CBE will lead the independent inquiry into Edinburgh’s school closures.
17 schools were shut by officials in April after concerns were raised over their structural safety following works carried out by the Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP).
The schools were delivered following a £360 million deal between the council and a private finance consortium under the Public Private Partnership 1 (PPP1) scheme.
With a 30 year career in public service, John, an architect by profession, has specialised in seeking to improve the quality of design, procurement and construction of new buildings in the public sector. In so doing he has been responsible for the development, dissemination and implementation of a series of innovative and highly successful procurement models.
Major infrastructure projects with which he is currently involved include the delivery of a new £180m educational campus to provide six secondary schools on a single shared site in Omagh and the development of a new £600m paediatric hospital in Dublin. In both cases he was appointed by the respective Ministers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to bring his expertise to these innovative and complex projects.
It is expected that the inquiry will commence in the early autumn once the schools are fully open and the contractual position with ESP has been concluded. The terms of reference have been agreed between Mr Cole and the chief executive, the council’s corporate policy & strategy committee.
Chief executive Andrew Kerr said: “I am pleased to have brought on board an expert of John’s calibre to head this independent inquiry as he commands respect in both construction and procurement fields.
“His track record speaks for itself and I am sure parents and everyone else who has been affected by the issues over the past five months will take comfort from the extensive knowledge and experience that John brings to the role.
“The clear and thorough terms of reference set out exactly what we are aiming to achieve through this inquiry. We want to find out what went wrong with these schools and are determined to see what lessons can be learned, not just here in Edinburgh but across Scotland and the UK.”
It was announced earlier this week that four primary schools, Pirniehall, St David’s, Broomhouse and St Joseph’s, will now open on Monday 20 June – ahead of schedule. Pupils from Rowanfield School will also return earlier than planned on Monday 27 June.
This follows the 900 pupils from Oxgangs and St Peter’s Primary Schools and Braidburn School who returned to their own schools last month, followed by Firrhill High School, which completely reopened on schedule last week.
The remaining primary schools – Craigour Park, Forthview, Craigroyston and Castleview – will be handed back during the summer break, as will Craigmount, Gracemount, Drummond and Royal High Schools.