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.

The Importance of Condition and Suitability

As set out in the Guiding Principles, the condition and suitability of all learning environments should support and enhance their function.

The Condition Core Fact; Building better schools: Investing in Scotland’s future, published by the Scottish Government, November 2017 sets out:

“ Condition is concerned with the current state of the fabric of the school and with safety and security.”

“ Schools in good condition
– irrespective of age or design
– signal to all users (pupils, teachers, staff and the community) that learning is a valued activity, that the learning environment is a priority and often gives that all important ‘feel-good factor’.”

The Suitability Core Fact; Building better schools: Investing in Scotland’s future; published by the Scottish Government, November 2017 sets out:

“Suitability is a measure of whether a school is fit for the purpose of delivering the education curriculum.”

One of the five key factors in establishing the suitability of the estate are the Environmental Conditions. Temperature, acoustics, ventilation, natural light and controllability are all examined. The environmental conditions within the learning spaces are assessed as “fully supporting learning and teaching”, which is graded as condition ‘A’ good, through to “seriously impeding learning and teaching”, which is graded as condition ‘D’ bad.

The University of Salford’s publication Clever Classrooms (2015) states that:

“Differences in the physical characteristics of classrooms explain 16% of the variation in learning progress over a year” with “light, temperature and air quality most influential, accounting for half the learning impact”.

Condition and suitability are equally important to all other parts of the learning estate.

Over the past 10 years the college sector has benefitted from investment in its estate with a significant number of new build and major refurbishment projects completed. This strategy is aimed at supporting the aspiration of all our learners by providing colleges equipped with the technology, buildings and adaptability to meet the current and future needs of learners to help them reach their full potential.

The 2017 SFC College Sector Estates condition survey highlighted the need for significant investment in the estates of some regional colleges Based on the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) condition B definition that ‘the general febric and services of a building be generally sound (wind and watertight)’.

The SFC has used the findings of the condition survey to develop and refine a prioritisation framework which aims to identify a small number of regional colleges where campus replacement or major redevelopment represents the best value for money, in terms of providing fit-for-purpose, modern teaching estates.

The condition survey also recognises there is a requirement to consider the college estate’s fitness for purpose including changes in curriculum delivery, improved flexibility and space efficiency along with the digital infrastructure and carbon reduction measures.

Unlike colleges, universities are not classed as public sector organisations. While that is the case they do receive a significant amount of public funding including capital funding via the SFC to support development of their estates. In recent years universities have also been able to benefit from access to financial transactions funding which has been available for projects designed to reduce the sector’s carbon footprint, estates development and improve the student experience.


Email: Matthew.Rennie@gov.scot

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