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Building better schools

28/09/2009

Over 12,000 pupils across Scotland will be lifted out of poor condition schools following announcement of the first 14 secondary schools to benefit from the £1.25 billion school building programme.

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Fiona Hyslop made the announcement today as she visited one of the schools to benefit, Lasswade High in Midlothian, before officially opening the new Armadale Academy. Ms Hyslop described the new building as "an inspirational example of everything a new school can be".

The Scottish Government, together with COSLA, will now accelerate the process of agreeing the first set of primary schools to benefit from investment, with an announcement expected before the end of the year. Every local authority local authority area across Scotland is expected to benefit from the first phases of the school building programme which sees £800 million of funding from the Scottish Government and £450 million from local councils.

The Cabinet Secretary also today, jointly with COSLA, set out the guiding principles for future planning and action to improve the whole of Scotland's school estate, with publication of the new school estate strategy - Building Better Schools: Investing in Our Future.

Ms Hyslop said:

"This Government and local authorities are already on track to lift 100,000 school pupils, by 2011, out of tired and crumbling school buildings and classrooms and providing them with cutting-edge accommodation and facilities in which to continue their 21st century education. As a result of the £2 billion of capital funding for 2008-10 made available to local authorities, over 150 projects have been completed since May 2007 and we expect 250 by 2011. What's more, the pace of building has quickened with new and refurbished schools being delivered faster over this four year term than the last four year term.

"Today's announcement is the latest step towards going even further and demonstrates our continued commitment to providing every pupil with the same high quality experience for their school building.

"Working in partnership with COSLA and local authorities we can deliver better school accommodation the length and breadth of Scotland and ensure our school estate is fit for the delivery of Curriculum for Excellence.

"In June I announced the new £1.25 billion school building programme which will, with £800 million of Scottish Government capital investment, deliver 55 new schools for Scotland.

"Today's announcement is the latest step towards turning that investment into better buildings. Pupils, teachers and communities across Scotland, from Wick to Dalbeattie, will benefit from these new schools.

"Today's allocations are just the start of our investment, representing a quarter of the new schools that will be built as part of this programme. What's more we have a vision for the school estate that will ensure we make the most of that investment, by backing it up with focus, ambition and commitment. The strategy published today sets out the guiding principals that will help us make the most of our buildings and spaces, grounds, fixtures and facilities.

"The pupils I have met at Armadale Academy today are testament to the rewards this can bring."

The secondary schools selected for the initial round of investment are:

  • Ellon Academy in Aberdeenshire
  • Mearns Academy in Aberdeenshire
  • Brechin High in Angus
  • Dalbeattie High in Dumfries and Galloway
  • Harris Academy in Dundee
  • Eastwood High in East Renfrewshire
  • James Gillespie's in Edinburgh
  • Auchmuty High in Fife
  • Wick High in Highland
  • Lasswade High in Midlothian
  • Garnock Academy in North Ayrshire
  • Clyde Valley High in North Lanarkshire
  • Ayr Academy in South Ayrshire
  • Dumbarton Academy in West Dunbartonshire

The following criteria were considered as part of the process to identify the first tranche:

  • The distribution of needs, nationally
  • Best available information about schools' condition (core facts, School Estate Management Plans, and other intelligency)
  • Best availability on schools' "unsuitability" to deliver modern education
  • Additionality - schools which are not part of a funded programme already
  • Authorities' own priorities
  • Aspects of readiness to proceed (bearing in mind there will be a second phase).

The first tranche of primary schools will be identified using the same criteria used for the first phase of secondaries. Without second guessing the process we have to go through, and having looked closely at the extent of poor conditions, unsuitability and the scale of needs and local investment priorities across Scotland we now anticipate that each council will benefit from the first phases of the school building programme.

The Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) will have a central role in managing this new school building programme, working alongside locals authorities. The SFT will develop, recommend and implement approaches that will secure a better schools programme across Scotland, and better value for money than could be achieved through each local authority working separately.

The first secondary school should be completed by 2013 and the first primary school in 2011.

The new school estate strategy has pupils at its centre and sets out the joint Government-COSLA target of achieving in excess of 90 per cent of children being educated in good condition schools, with firms plans to lift the rest of pupils out of being educated in schools in poor or bad conditions.

In addition to the specific investment of £1.25 billion, including £800 million from the Scottish Government, we have provided local authorities with £2 billion of capital funding for 2008-10, which is also available for school building initiatives in their area, as well as other capital projects.

250 new or refurbished schools over the period of this Parliament (48 months/208 weeks) exceeds the 200 over the previous 48 months/208 weeks. By the end of this Parliament, the rate of delivery will have gone up from 0.76 schools per week over the 8 years of the previous administration to an anticipated 1.2 per week over the period May 2007 - April 2011.