An architect has been appointed to lead an independent inquiry into the closure of 17 schools in Edinburgh due to safety fears.

Construction and procurement industry expert John Cole will oversee the probe into the closures which affected about 7,600 primary and secondary school children in the capital.

The schools, which were all built or refurbished as part of the same public-private partnership scheme, were closed suddenly in April.

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The council took the decision to shut them after Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP), which operates the schools, said it was unable to provide safety assurances for the properties.

Edinburgh Council said the inquiry was expected to begin in the early autumn when the schools are fully open "and the contractual position with ESP has been concluded".

Mr Cole has specialised in improving the quality of design, procurement and construction of new public-sector buildings, with his current work including the development of a new £600 million paediatric hospital in Dublin.


Council 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.

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"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."

About 900 pupils from Oxgangs and St Peter's primary schools and Braidburn School returned to their classrooms last month, followed by Firrhill High School last week.


Pirniehall, St David's, Broomhouse and St Joseph's primary schools are due to reopen on Monday, with pupils from Rowanfield School expected to return the following Monday.

Read more: Scottish councils told to check school building safety after shock Edinburgh closures

Craigour Park, Forthview, Craigroyston and Castleview primary schools will be handed back during the summer holidays, as will Craigmount, Gracemount, Drummond and Royal High Schools.