Scottish schools buildings are in their best condition since recorded figures began, a new government report has revealed.

The proportion of schools reported as being in ‘good’ or ‘satisfactory’ condition has increased to 90.2 per cent, up from 61.1 per cent than in April 2007.

But less than one third of schools (28.8 per cent) fall into the good category, with the majority (61.4 per cent) considered satisfactory.

And although there has been a 77 per cent decrease in the number of pupils educated in ‘poor’ or ‘bad’ school buildings, 9.7 per cent of schools still fall into these brackets.

According to the new school estate statistics, the number of pupils in school buildings of each category is:

  • good: 277,671 (265,643 in 2020)
  • satisfactory: 364,044 (369,063 in 2020)
  • poor: 58,148 (60,836 in 2020)
  • bad: 855 (1,050 in 2020)

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We would like to see no schools in ‘poor’ or ‘bad’ condition, however, it is the statutory responsibility of local authorities to manage and maintain their school estate.”

SNP ministers will invest £1 billion through their £2bn ‘learning estate investment programme’, which will see the building and refurbishment of buildings. Since 2007, over 1,000 schools have been built or ‘substantially refurbished’.

The spokesperson added: “Our investment in the school estate is intended to augment – not replace – local authorities’ own investment. It is worth noting that the solitary school in ‘bad’ condition is being replaced through the learning estate investment programme.”

Modernising school buildings

The education secretary has promised the funding will “modernise” schools buildings, supporting local authorities via an “outcomes-based funding model”. This will be linked to keeping the new facilities in good condition and other outcomes such as new facilities being digitally enabled with underlying infrastructure capable of delivering 1Gbp/s of speed. 

Through the learning estate investment programme, local authorities in Scotland will put forward detailed plans to refurbish or replace schools in their area, delivering “high-quality, modern learning facilities”.

The ‘energy efficiency’ target for schools replaced and upgraded is “highly ambitious” too – its target is 67 kWh per square meter, per year, for core hours. This is a “significant improvement” on the levels of energy efficiency in older school buildings.

Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Schools are at the heart of every community across Scotland, which is why it’s vital that pupils are educated in facilities that are fit for purpose. Our hardworking teachers and support staff deserve to work in modern, high quality buildings too.

“These latest statistics illustrate how that investment is making a real difference to thousands of children and young people. In terms of measuring how our schools are improving, these are the best statistics since records began.

“And we want to do more. Our £2 billion Learning Estate Investment Programme will see schools upgraded across Scotland, benefitting around 50,000 pupils. Councils will play a big part in modernising schools and it is important that we work closely with them to deliver for children and young people across the country.”