ANGRY parents have turned on council officials after thousands of children were told to stay at home as safety fears forced the closure of 17 schools in Edinburgh.

Yesterday council chiefs held emergency meetings with directors of the private finance consortium responsible for the buildings after it was unable to guarantee their safety.

Some 9,000 children are affected after the closures of 10 primaries, five secondaries and two additional support needs schools.

The Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP) said on Friday it had concerns about "serious defects" with some the buildings built and managed under a £130 million public-private partnership (PPP) programme.

The City of Edinburgh Council told parents the schools would be closed today and schooling arrangements for this coming week are still unclear.

With many pupils preparing for their exams, one parent said on the council's Facebook page: "I obviously want my son to be educated in a safe place and CEC [the council] should have already done that through building control at the time of signing the building off! but they need to put measures in place now and not next week for all the kids who will be panicking about revision."

Another said: "Scrap your stupid tram inquiry and subject this to the spotlight of public scrutiny. We need answers as to what has gone so badly wrong."

The council said it was focussing on the secondary schools – Gracemount, Craigmount, Firrhill, Drummond and Royal High – as a priority, with the hope a clearer picture would be available by Tuesday.

It said more detailed structural surveys, arranged by ESP, would continue throughout the course of this week, with information for each school being confirmed as soon as possible.

Pupils at Oxgangs Primary, St Peter’s Primary and Braidburn schools will continue to use alternative accommodation arranged prior to the Easter break after inspections first revealed structural problems.

Alternative arrangements for other schools were being "actively looked into" and the council will update parents on a daily basis.

The Howdenhall Secure Unit, which was also affected, has stayed operational as only the gym area that was identified as needing remedial work.

The council has been in regular contact with the Scottish Government and other institutions, including Edinburgh University, which have offered additional support.

Council chief Executive Andrew Kerr said the authority had offered ESP help to complete the surveys as soon as possible.

He said: "I also reminded them of their contractual and financial obligations and want to assure Edinburgh residents that they will not be left footing the bill.

"The safety of children and our staff is our main priority and I’m simply not willing to compromise on this.

"I fully recognise the significant inconvenience to parents caused by these closures but I am sure they will understand why we had to take these steps."

The issue first came to light in January, when part of a wall collapsed at Oxgangs Primary during a storm. In March, the school was closed after safety inspections revealed a problem with the wall’s construction.

Three more schools built under the same public-private partnership were then closed within the same week following checks which revealed missing header ties, which are used to bind internal and external walls together.

An ESP spokesperson said: "The standard of construction carried out by the building contractor is completely unacceptable and we are now undertaking full structural surveys on all PPP1 schools to determine whether this issue is more widespread.

"We would like to apologise to parents and pupils for all of the uncertainty and inconvenience caused, and give our sincere assurances that we will fix these issues."

The Edinburgh four schools closed due to structural concerns in the last month were built by Miller Construction, which was acquired by Galliford Try in 2014.

Education Secretary Angela Constance has written to all local authorities and asked them to carry out any necessary checks as soon as possible.

Inspections have been taking place of other schools in Glasgow, Fife and Inverclyde Council that were also built by Miller.

Glasgow City Council confirmed that the contractor had verbally reassured them there was nothing of concern, but had taken to decision to undertake more surveys this week.

A spokeswoman said the city's schools would open as normal on April 18 following the Easter break.

A Fife Council spokeswoman said that "thorough inspections undertaken during the holiday period had raised no structural issues with our buildings" and all schools were expected open today.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The priority is to get children back to school ASAP & give parents all necessary assurances. However, questions must be asked, and in due course answered, about old PFI contracts that many feared put profits before quality.

"In the meantime, the Scottish Government will continue to support Edinburgh City Council in their work to resolve this situation as quickly as possible.”

The fiasco has also prompted some officials and trade unions to call for an urgent review into all PPP and PFI (private finance initiatives) across Scotland.

The issues come after unrelated incident in Edinburgh when 12-year-old pupil, Keane Wallis-Bennett, died when a changing room wall collapsed on her at Liberton High School in 2014.