Learning estate strategy

The Learning Estate Strategy and its guiding principles provide a platform for investment in the learning estate across Scotland and set out our strategic approach for managing the learning estate.

Annex A: An Overview of Current and Future Investment Plans

Local authorities prepared their ELC expansion plans based on the following guiding priorities to infrastructure planning:

  • Make best use of what we have;
  • Enhance the use of private and third sector capacity; and
  • Create new capacity, including outdoor nurseries.


The Scottish Government’s overarching school estate policy is that “no child should have to learn in a school that is in poor or bad condition”.

Over the past 11 years there has been unprecedented improvement and investment in Scotland’s school estate. Since 2007, 847 school building projects have been completed. By comparison, this is more than double the amount of schools (328) completed over the preceding 8 years. The current school estate comprises 2017 primary schools, 358 secondary schools and 126 special schools.

The proportion of schools reported as being in good or satisfactory condition has increased to 87%. This is substantially higher than in 2007 when the figure was 61 per cent of schools. And the proportion of pupils educated in schools in “poor” or “bad” condition has decreased from 37% of all pupils (around 257,000) in 2007 to 12% of all pupils (around 80,000) in 2018. It is recognised that to achieve the aim of having no child learning in a school in poor or bad condition, there is still more to do.

Since 2009, the Scottish Government has invested more than £1bn in the school estate through the Scotland’s Schools for the Future Programme which augments local authorities own spending. Alongside local government investment, the total investment across the estate has exceeded £4bn. The Scottish Government and local authorities are now seeking to continue this partnership and ensure schools are appropriately maintained as we collectively continue to invest in the estate.

In November 2018, the Scottish Government set out its plans to invest a further £1bn in the school estate. The key objectives of this investment are to:

  • support the delivery of Scotland’s Learning Estate Strategy
  • improve the condition and suitability of the learning estate
  • establish links across the learner journey where appropriate
  • support sustainable estate planning and improved stewardship

Underpinning this new investment is the presumption that it will continue to address the current commitment that “no child should have to learn in a school that is in poor or bad condition”. Investment is expected to contribute towards sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

Gaelic Provision

There have been great steps forward with Gaelic education. In 2007, there was one standalone Gaelic school. The Scottish Government has supported local authorities to deliver a further five Gaelic schools. The Scottish Government wants to continue to work with local authorities to help them realise their ambitions for those who wish to have access to Gaelic education.

The Scottish Government is committed to its continued support for the Gaelic language seeking to grow the number of speakers of the language and return the numbers to that reported in the 2001 census by 2021. In recognition of the key role that Education has in increasing the number of speakers of Gaelic, the Scottish Government established a Gaelic Capital Fund in 2008.

Through the Capital Fund, the Scottish Government has invested more than £31m which has helped meet growing demand for Gaelic Education across Scotland. Since its inception, the Capital Fund has helped deliver the expansion of all stages of Gaelic Education across Scotland including Argyll and Bute, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Highland, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, South Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire.

New investment in the wider learning estate will be complemented by continued financial support for new Gaelic infrastructure projects. A further £4m has been committed by the Scottish Government to supporting Gaelic education projects in 2019/20.

Colleges and Universities

Since 2007, the Scottish Government has allocated over £810m in college capital projects including new campuses and buildings. A further £300 million in Non-Profit Distributing (NPD) revenue funded investment has also been allocated.

Despite the significant investment in the college sector, the SFC’s review of college estate in late 2017 classified approximately one-third of the college estate as in poor condition. The figure has since fallen to around one-quarter after taking into consideration investment in the sector estate since that date.

To help address this, the SFC Board approved an Infrastructure Framework for capital investment across both colleges and universities. The framework allows for the prioritisation of major capital projects predominantly from within the college sector and within the context of limited direct capital funding.

The Scottish Government is committed to supporting investment in the college estate and is working with the SFC to refine the approach to creating a pipeline of potential projects which are capable of implementation when the investment funding becomes available and an appropriate financing model is identified. The Scottish Government will work with the SFC to develop a strong evidence based case to support further investment in the future and develop a medium-term capital investment plan that sets out sector wide priorities.

The university estate is significantly larger than the college estate. Approximately 25% of the university estate is in poor condition and the sector has reported a current backlog need of up to £900m. SFC continues to provide capital maintenance funding which, in turn, allows institutions to lever in significantly more investment from other sources. The Scottish Government will also provide Scottish universities with access to up to £60m in Financial Transactions in 2019-20. This builds on Financial Transactions provided in previous years and will be targeted at supporting further university campus development to improve the learner experience and reduce the sector’s carbon footprint. 


Email: Matthew.Rennie@gov.scot

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