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Sheep graze in front of the Rothesay Academy and Primary School. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Councils across Scotland have been urged to check the safety of school buildings across the country after 17 schools and a community centre were ordered to be closed on safety grounds on 8 April. Schools built under the same private finance contract are now feared to pose a safety risk to children and staff.

It is not known when the 10 primary schools, five secondary schools and two additional support needs school and the Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre will be re-opened. About 9,000 affected school children will have nowhere to go when schools resume after their Easter half term.

An emergency meeting of the Scottish government's resilience committee was held on 9 April. Education Secretary Angela Constance said: "It is too early to assess any wider implications for schools in other parts of Scotland."

She continued: "However, Scottish government officials have written to all local authorities this weekend to ask them to carry out necessary checks on their own estate as soon as possible. We understand that all of the affected buildings in Edinburgh were completed over 10 years ago."

Edinburgh Schools Partnership, which operates the buildings, has apologised, BBC reports. A spokeswoman said: "While carrying out remedial works on Friday afternoon, a new issue came to light at two schools - Oxgangs and St Peter's - relating to an absence of header ties in sections of the building."

She continued: "The standard of construction carried out by the building contract is completely unacceptable and we are now undertaking full structural surveys to determine whether this issue is more widespread."

She said: "Edinburgh Schools Partnership will accept full financial responsibility for investigating and resolving these issues. We would like to apologise to parents and pupils for all of the uncertainty and inconvenience caused, and give our sincere assurances that we will fix these issues."

The problems were first uncovered when a wall at the Oxgangs Primary School collapsed during Storm Gertrude in January, Three other schools in Edinburgh - St Peter's RC Primary, Firrhill High and Braidburn Special Schools - were later closed after inspectors uncovered problems with the way walls had been built.

The schools were all expected to re-open after the Easter break but the City of Edinburgh Council said fresh concerns had been raised during remedial work at the Oxgangs Primary last week. It said the partnership which built the buildings and manages them on behalf of the council was unable to give assurances that the buildings constructed under the Public Private Partnership 1 were safe.

Pupils three weeks away from major exams

Luke McCullough, the chair of the Royal High School's Parent Council said that the immediate priority was to resolve the situation. "It's got pupils who are now three weeks away from sitting big exams - Highers, advanced Highers, and of course the new National Fives.

"So what arrangements are the council going to put in place for those students to get them doing something that's useful and working towards those exams as quickly as possible?" he asked. In April 2014, a pupil was killed at the Liberton High School when a wall collapsed inside the school.