Further to this week’s tragic incident at Liberton High School, where a 12-year-old pupil died on Tuesday (1 April) after a freestanding wall collapsed on her, the main school building has been closed pending the completion of a Police and health and safety investigation, and a structural inspection.
The 12-year-old girl who died in the incident, has been named as Keane Wallis-Bennett (pictured left). She has been described by her head teacher as “a popular team player”, who showed “a lot of sporting ability” and was “really eager to contribute to the school” for example by clearing litter and planting bulbs in the school grounds.
The fatality is a double-blow to Edinburgh Council which last month was fined £8,000 following an investigation into an incident in 2011 when another pupil at the school was seriously injured when she fell more than five metres down a lift shaft.
Furthermore, there have been worrying reports in the press of allegations claiming that the wall, described by Edinburgh Council as a ‘free standing modesty wall in a changing room’, was known to be unstable. This claim will no doubt be investigated by the relevant authorities as they look into the cause of the incident.
Edinburgh Council has confirmed that a full survey of the borough’s schools, including Liberton High School, was carried out in 2012/13 and “no concerns with this wall” were identified. However in the light of this week’s fatality, specialist council building services staff will be surveying all similar walls in schools in the borough.
As a further precaution, a council spokesperson also confirmed a full survey will be carried out at Liberton High School in the coming days before the main school building re-opens to pupils.
Following Tuesday’s tragic incident at Liberton High School, head teacher Stephen Kelly paid tribute to Keane Wallis-Bennett, saying:
“Keane was an excellent pupil who had a bright and bubbly personality and got on well with others in class. She had a real presence in class and her friends and my staff are deeply shocked and upset at what has happened.”
Andy Gray, head of schools and community services, said:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of our pupil at this tragic time. We are offering welfare support to anyone who needs it and we will be co-operating fully with Police Scotland and the Health Safety Executive to try to establish what’s happened.”
Councillor Paul Godzik, convener of education, children and families, said:
“It is important we find out exactly what happened here and as a Council we are working closely with the Police and Health and Safety Executive as investigations continue.”
The school will remain closed for the remainder of this week (and until after the Easter break), except for any pupil seeking emotional support and for pupils in need of tutorial support ahead of their forthcoming exams.