The new Peterhead Community Campus has been selected as one of the first projects set to benefit from a nationwide £1 billion investment programme.
£71m has already been earmarked in the Council’s Capital Plan for the project and this will see a welcome boost from the Scottish Government which is set to contribute funding of between £220m and £275m to replace 26 schools across Scotland. A further phase of investment is to be announced within 12 months.
The announcement comes on the day National Statistics showed the proportion of schools in good or satisfactory condition across Scotland has increased from 61.1% in April 2007 to 88.3% in April 2019. The School Estates Statistics 2019 also showed that the proportion of pupils educated in these good or satisfactory condition schools has hit a record of 89.6%, up from 60.8% in 2007.
Tackling the climate emergency is central to Scotland’s new Learning Estates Strategy, with lessons learned from previous education infrastructure projects informing future construction to create low carbon digitally enabled schools and campuses. Scottish Futures Trust will manage the programme on behalf of the Scottish Government.
Several of the projects bring together nurseries, schools - including specialist centres for pupils with additional support needs - colleges and universities in multi-purpose campuses for pupils aged from three to 18, with additional facilities that benefit surrounding communities.
The first projects in this phase could open as soon as 2022-23.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Education Secretary John Swinney and COSLA spokesperson for resources Councillor Gail Macgregor launched the strategy alongside colleagues from Aberdeenshire Council at Peterhead Academy.
The First Minister said: “This additional £1 billion investment will benefit around 50,000 pupils across Scotland, with the first phase set to upgrade and modernise schools across 11 of our local authority areas.
“This investment builds on the progress that we have made over the last 10 years. The National Statistics published today reveal that, even before today’s announcement, Scotland’s school estate has never been in better condition, with a record percentage in good or satisfactory condition. That is a result of sustained investment and we will now build on that.
“Modern, state of the art buildings can make a real difference to the lives of pupils, teachers and parents, as well as the wider communities they serve. This investment continues our efforts to improve the condition of our entire learning estate, from early years through to schools and colleges.”
Mr Swinney said: “Creating and maintaining high quality, fit for purpose educational facilities demonstrates to pupils, teachers, staff and the community how valuable learning is.
“The progress made through Scotland’s Schools for the Future has had a significant impact on the condition of schools across the country - almost 90% of pupils are learning in schools in good or satisfactory condition.
“We are committed to making even more progress and I have seen myself the urgency with which some schools require updating. The first phase of the £1 billion Learning Estate Investment Programme prioritises schools in need of updating or where there are significant capacity issues, as identified by local authorities, to ensure rapid progress where most required.
Councillor Macgregor said: “COSLA is delighted today to launch the new Learning Estates Strategy in partnership with the Scottish Government. Over the course of the Strategy, Councils will contribute at least £2 billion to the Programme and the Scottish Government’s contribution of £1 billion is welcomed. The joint investment that Councils will make with the Scottish Government in Scotland’s schools over the course of this Strategy will improve the learning environments of thousands of children and young people across the country.
“Councils welcome the focus on building links across communities and across learning environments including colleges. Supporting our children and young people to access the learning journey that will help them reach their full potential is vitally important to local authorities and I look forward to the exciting opportunities for innovation that lie ahead.”
Cllr Gillian Owen, chair of Aberdeenshire’s Education and Children’s Services Committee added: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome this commitment from the Scottish Government, to complement our ambitions for a new campus in Peterhead. We have aspirations to create a modern and community-focused campus which will be a boost for the area.
“Through this unique project, we hope to deliver a programme of work which meets the short, medium and long-term needs and aspirations of Peterhead and the surrounding communities, in line with the Council’s Priorities. This commitment will better enable us to deliver crucial, impressive new school facilities at the same time as retaining and redeveloping many community facilities within the town centre.”
Cllr Norman Smith, Chair of Buchan Area Committee commented: “This is a great day for Peterhead. We are absolutely committed to making this friendly town the best possible place for people to live, work and visit. A new community campus has been an aspiration for a number of years, and it is brilliant to see that it will benefit from this additional investment from the Scottish Government.”
Kerry Alexander, director of infrastructure finance and programmes at the Scottish Futures Trust, said: “As programme managers we are very much looking forward to working with our public sector partners on the Learning Estate Investment Programme to deliver world-class learning environments to support the future educational needs of learners, as well as providing vibrant community facilities for everyone to enjoy and benefit from.”
The £1 billion Learning Estate Investment Programme was announced in November 2018.
Scotland’s Learning Estate Strategy can be viewed online.
The Scottish Government will pay for ongoing maintenance of the new facility and fund other outcomes to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
School Estate Statistics are published annually.
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