Milestone in delivery of new schools

Attainment improvements as 100th school opens.

Education Secretary John Swinney will hail attainment improvements in refurbished or replaced schools as he joins Ladyloan and Muirfield primary pupils to open Scotland's 99th and 100th Schools for the Future later this week.

Broader benefits for pupils and communities include:

  • sharp increases in pupil attainment and attendance in the years covering Auchmuty High School pupils' move to their new building, with S5 and S6 pupils demonstrating clear performance improvements
  • Eastwood High School saw the percentage of S5 pupils achieving five or more highers increase consistently to 40% compared with 17% prior to moving to their new building

A total of 842 jobs have been supported by over £560 million of work awarded to small and medium enterprises working on projects as part of the £1.8 billion Schools for the Future programme. By summer 2020, 117 schools will be replaced or substantially refurbished through the programme.

Sustained investment in school buildings across Scotland has seen the proportion of pupils educated in schools in good or satisfactory condition increase markedly from 60.8% in 2007 to 89.6% in 2019. A total of 928 schools have been built or substantially refurbished in that time.

Local authorities, the building sector and the Scottish Government have collaborated closely through the programme, developing techniques and designs for new schools which form the basis of the Learning Estate Strategy for future school projects.

As he opens Ladyloan and Muirfield primaries, Mr Swinney will say:

“The £1.8 billion Schools for the Future Programme brought together pupils, teachers, staff and communities who told us what they wanted from their schools. Close working between government, local authorities and construction experts has delivered that with school replacement or refurbishment projects in all 32 local authority areas.

“The programme has output not only high quality school buildings that enhance pupils’ learning experience, it has produced a concerted and collaborative blueprint for better schools that give generations to come the best possible start in life.

“By bringing together expertise from the building sector with local authorities and the Scottish Futures Trust through the Education Buildings Scotland conference, we have cemented best practice for school projects across the country. Our Learning Estate Strategy takes what we have learnt from more than a decade of school and college projects and lays the path towards our vision of schools being the heart of their communities.”

Councillor Stephen McCabe, Children and Young People Spokesperson at COSLA, said:

“The new and refurbished schools delivered through Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme have been a key plank of local government's continuing commitment to providing every child with the best education possible.

“The Schools for the Future programme has laid strong foundations for the new Learning Estate Strategy, which will assist councils to not only maintain the condition of the school estate for future generations, but to explore new, innovative ways of working for and with the wider community to deliver learning and other essential services such as library facilities, community education and digital training.”

Stephen Long, Associate Director of Education at the Scottish Futures Trust, said:

“Our management of the Scotland's Schools for the Future programme is helping all Scotland's 32 councils succeed in delivering the very best teaching and learning environments.

“As well as supporting many thousands of construction jobs, the programme is creating and delivering world-class, award-winning learning environments that not only meet future educational needs but are vibrant community assets as well. Now open, Ladyloan and Muirfield Primary Schools will play a vital role in the local community.”

Alan Pithie, Head Teacher of Auchmuty High School, said:

“We have seen a transformational impact on pupils’ achievement and attainment since moving to the new building. As pupil perception, ambition and image in the community has improved in recent years, so have enthusiasm and behaviour. Senior pupils have recorded their highest exam performances in recent years and absences and exclusions have both shown significant improvement within the new school.”

Stuart Maxwell, Head Teacher at Eastwood High School, said:

“The new building and grounds have been a contributing factor to the success of Eastwood High's journey of improvement. We have a better environment for learning and teaching, which has benefitted pupils, staff and the wider school community. This has led to higher levels of achievement, as demonstrated in improved SQA results.”


117 new or substantially refurbished schools will be completed by the time Scotland’s Schools for the Future Programme concludes, with at least one project in every local authority area.

The first phase of eleven projects as part of the £1 billion Learning Estate Investment Programme was announced in September 2019. A further phase will be announced by September 2020, with funding allocated to projects based on local authority bids. Scotland’s Learning Estate Strategy can be viewed online.

In 2017, the Scottish Government held the first Education Buildings Scotland conference, bringing the construction sector together with educationalists and local authorities. The next conference will take place on 24-25 February 2021 at Glasgow’s SEC.  

Scottish Futures Trust’s Interim Findings Report, published in May 2018, found that through Scotland's Schools for the Future programme:

  • over £560m of work has been awarded to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
  • 842 new jobs created at SMEs
  • 5,339 work placements delivered
  • 11,629 site visits carried out
  • 70 graduate recruitment opportunities filled
  • 621 apprentices / trainees supported so far in the programme

In July 2015 a Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) for Auchmuty High School’s new building was published, just under two years after the school was occupied. Data gathered over a five-year period during which the school transitioned to the new building highlighted:

  • the highest recorded S5/S6 performance in recent years
  • absences reduced by 65% since moving to new building (20% to 7%)
  • huge improvement in behaviour
  • exclusion rate decreasing year on year, halved from previous levels 
  • improvements in pupil perception, ambition and image in the community 
  • the new learning area has greatly encouraged children to read


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