Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Pupil, 12, dies after wall collapses at Liberton High School

Keane Bennett Image copyright facebook
Image caption The pupil has been named locally and on social media as 12-year-old Keane Wallis-Bennett

A 12-year-old girl has died after a wall at an Edinburgh school collapsed and landed on top of her.

The pupil, who has been named locally and on social media as Keane Wallis-Bennett, was injured in the incident at Liberton High School just before 10:00.

She received medical treatment but was pronounced dead at the scene.

A statement released by City of Edinburgh Council said the incident involved a "free standing modesty wall in a changing room".

Police said an investigation had been launched into the "tragic incident".

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Media captionHead of Schools Andy Gray and Supt Matt Richards spoke at a news briefing

Supt Matt Richards, of Police Scotland, said: "The girl's parents have been fully informed. Our deepest sympathies are with them at this time.

"Our thoughts are also with the pupils at Liberton High School who have lost a classmate and friend today."

The school will remain closed for the rest of the week and until after the Easter break.

Text to parents

One pupil at the school, 13-year-old Devon Blyth, told the BBC she had warned a teacher some months ago that there was an unstable wall in the girl's changing room near the old gym.

She said: "There was a wall that's been wobbly for months."

She said she had told a teacher who had said that "it should be fine - and then this has happened".

Image caption People gathered at the school gates after the news emerged

In February, Edinburgh City Council was fined £8,000 after a pupil received serious injuries when she fell down a lift shaft at Liberton High School.

Morgan Seaton, a fourth year pupil, was 15 at the time of the accident on 8 December 2011.

The school, which has about 650 pupils, was built in 1959, and the PE accommodation was refurbished in the mid-1980s.

A report prepared for the council in December 2013 recommended a programme of repairs to the school buildings, although there was no indication of structural work being required.

It said work should be carried out to "upgrade render and... cladding panels", along with "electrical enhancements, lighting upgrade and rewire, mechanical improvements" and upgrading of water quality.

A statement released by the council on Tuesday evening said: "Following today's tragic incident at Liberton High School, our thoughts are with the family and friends of the pupil and everyone at the school. Senior education officers continue to support the pupils and staff.

"Police investigations are ongoing, however we understand that the wall that collapsed was a free standing modesty wall in a changing room.

"A full survey of all our schools, including Liberton High School, was carried out in 2012/13 and no concerns with this wall were identified. However, as a precaution, specialist council building services staff will be surveying all similar walls in schools where we know that they exist."

After the wall collapsed the school sent a text to parents, which reads: "Important. Accident at school. A pupil has sadly died. Her parents are aware. No-one else is injured."

Edinburgh City Council advised parents to pick up their children from the school.

BBC reporter Morag Kinniburgh said pupils had been texting their parents saying they were extremely worried and asking to be picked up.

'Really upset'

Gary Gracie, 34, was one of the parents who congregated at the school gates.

He said: "My step-daughter phoned and said one of the walls in the changing room had collapsed.

"The lassies were getting changed for their PE class in the changing room. My step-daughter heard the crash.

"She said it was all her friends in the building at the time.

Image caption A text message was sent to parents at the school

"She is really upset."

Another parent, Alistair Strachan, 36, said he was "very worried and concerned" about the incident.

An Edinburgh City Council spokeswoman said senior education staff and Health and Safety officers from the council were at the school providing support to staff and pupils.

A spokeswoman for the Health and Safety Executive confirmed it was aware of the incident and was liaising with Police Scotland.

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Media captionFirst Minister Alex Salmond says the death of a pupil at Liberton High School is "desperately sad" and will be rigorously investigated

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said crews from Tollcross, McDonald Road, Liberton and Newcraighall had been sent to the school.

"Firefighters assisted ambulance personnel to remove a female casualty from a collapsed structure, but sadly she was pronounced dead at the scene," said a spokeswoman.

"Thoughts are with the family at this difficult time."

First Minister Alex Salmond tweeted that he was "shocked and deeply saddened at news from Liberton High".

"Visited school in December - thoughts today with family, pupils and staff," he added.

He said a wall falling on a student was the "last thing you'd expect".

He promised a "rigorous investigation" and said that at first sight the circumstances did not seem related to an earlier lift shaft accident at the same school.

Minister for Learning Alasdair Allan added: "We remain in close contact with the council and stand ready to provide any help that may be needed."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Emergency services were called to the school on Tuesday morning

Nick Cook, the Conservative councillor whose Liberton and Gilmerton ward includes Liberton High School, told the BBC Scotland news website: "This is a very tragic and troubling incident.

"My thoughts are with the pupil's family.

"Serious questions need to be asked of the children and families department about how this has come about and a full investigation must be launched."

'Thoughts and prayers'

The Associate Minister at Liberton Kirk, Reverend Dave Rankin, is one of the chaplains at Liberton High School.

He said: "Members of the chaplaincy team at Liberton High School went to the school as soon as we became aware of this terrible accident.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Support has been offered to pupils at the school

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the girl who has died.

"Ministers and youth workers from a number of local churches were on hand to support both pupils and members of staff as they heard what had happened.

"The chaplaincy team will offer ongoing support and comfort to the school and the local community as the full impact of this tragedy is felt in the coming days and weeks."

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