PUPIL safety in schools built under controversial private finance deals is to be investigated by a Scottish Parliament committee.

Building contractors, Scottish Government representatives and council officials will all be summoned to Holyrood's education committee as part of the probe which follows the emergency closure of 17 fault-ridden schools in Edinburgh.

The Sunday Herald has learned that Private Finance Initiative deals to build school buildings, that were signed by the last Labour-Lib Dem executive, will be raised during the inquiry.

The 17 schools in Edinburgh built under PFI arrangements were closed in 2016 when a series of other potentially-fatal safety defects were revealed.

An independent inquiry into the school closures, chaired by eminent architect John Cole, highlighted a lack of proper scrutiny of the construction work of the school buildings affected.

However, MSPs will now explore how education authorities across Scotland can assure parents and children that schools buildings are safe following the findings of the Cole report in February this year.

The committee will also focus on what lessons can be learnt in the management of future school building projects.

Committee convener, James Dornan, announcing the move, said: “There have clearly been some high-profile cases but our work will explore what the picture is across Scotland and, more importantly, what lessons can be learned to ensure this will never happen again and Scotland’s schools are well-built and safe places to learn.”

Education Secretary John Swinney, welcoming the inquiry, said: “Robust guidance has been provided to public sector bodies across Scotland on the findings of the Cole Report to ensure these are immediately reflected within their asset inspection and management strategies.”

However, a teaching union leader claimed PFI contracts were placing eduction funding under strain.

Larry Flanagan, EIS teaching union General Secretary, said: "The biggest issue for schools is that the ongoing PFI contracts are still sucking money out of schools. That's why bold action is need to buy out these contracts."

Scottish Tory education spokesperson Liz Smith said the Holyrood inquiry should focus on pupil safety rather than PFI.

She said: "The education committee has to ensure that it looks at how safety is guaranteed in school buildings.

"But what's not in the remit of the committee is looking at procurement and PFI."