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Friday, 4 April 2014

Sadness and Loss

It's been a very sad week for anyone involved in education in Edinburgh, or anyone who has been aware of the news at all. On Tuesday, Keane Wallis-Bennett died when a wall collapsed at her school, Liberton High. I was shocked and appalled when I heard the news, a stark message from the BBC on my phone: child dies in Edinburgh school.

I'm sure many other parents reacted in the same way I did. My heart pounded, my palms immediately prickled with sweat; I leapt to my keyboard and went as quickly as I could to the BBC website. Panic rushed through me: was it one of my daughters? And of course, as soon as I found out it wasn't their school, I felt a rush of relief. Almost immediately followed by guilt. My daughters were fine, but one family would never feel the rush of relief that I did. For them, they are now in a waking nightmare, one which will not end.

I am not sure what to do in this situation. What can I do that would help them? As the parent representative on the Education Committee I have been called upon to comment on the tragedy in a number of newspapers and also television bulletins. I have repeated the same things, "we were aware of the condition surveys, and assured by the Council that the appropriate action was being taken", "parents have an expectation that their children will be safe at school and I would urge the Council to immediately review the condition surveys to check what else might have been missed."

It feels so little. It's addressing the future, what we do next, how do we ensure this never happens again. But it can't change what has happened to Keane, and what her family are going through. I want to be able to fix that. But I can't. It's heartbreaking.