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.

Enhancing Quality in the Learning Estate

In addition to improving the quality of internal spaces, there are opportunities to further enhance the quality of the learning estate.


Investment in the learning estate offers the opportunity for a place based approach to improve local outcomes, co-ordinating and integrating local services to support communities and progress the public sector reform agenda. The Place Principle (adopted by the Scottish Government in March 2019) which promotes a shared understanding of place and the need to take a more joined up collaborative approach to services and assets within a place to achieve better outcomes. The lens of place supports a more coherent approach across portfolios to ensure strategies and policies are aligned and helps us consider the impact of policies, interventions and investments as a whole. For capital budgets this means identifying and prioritising the right projects to achieve the goals of the principle and other government objectives. The Place Principle is an enabler which helps us, our partners and local communities unlock the National Performance Framework and make it applicable to where and how we live and work.

Construction Quality

In recent years there have been some examples of poor quality construction in the school estate. The heavily publicised incident at Oxgangs Primary School in Edinburgh placed a focus on the quality of the built environment.

It is essential that any new investment in the learning estate must be of the highest quality in terms of both design and construction. We will work with our partners including Scottish Building Standards and across the construction industry to support a focus on improvement.

The recommendations from the Independent Inquiry into the Construction of Edinburgh Schools (Cole Report), the Scottish Parliament Education and Skills Committee’s Report on School Infrastructure and the Construction Procurement Review should be incorporated into planned investment.

Climate Change Mitigation and Adaption

The Scottish Government has an ambitious climate change policy target for all buildings in Scotland to be near zero carbon by 2050. Reaching this target will require a change in attitude towards energy, particularly in relation to new buildings. Increasing energy efficiency in building performance must be amongst the core objectives of all new infrastructure projects for these ambitious targets to be achieved. Achievement of these core objectives needs strategic level support and should be incorporated into planned investment.

In addition to meeting our ambitious emissions targets, it is important to prepare for future climatic change. Scotland’s climate has already changed over the last few decades. Climate change adaptation is about responding to the changes we have already seen, and preparing for the challenges and opportunities that we will face in the decades ahead.

Climate change mitigation and adaptation are inherently linked. The more we reduce our emissions, the less we will need to adapt. However, no matter how successful global greenhouse gas emission reduction measures are, it will still be necessary to adapt to climate change. Many impacts of past emissions are already locked-in and will lead to changes in our climate for decades to come.

Over the last century temperatures have increased, sea levels have risen and rainfall patterns have changed, with increased seasonality and more heavy downpours. In the coming years, we are likely to see these trends increasing. We need to ensure our learning environments are able to adapt as the climate continues to change.


New forms of service delivery, and new and agile forms of learning enabled by digital technology allow integration of learning experiences and the creation of new and diverse skills. The use of digital as part of the planning of the future estate, and future strategies for learning and community use should be incorporated into planned investment.

There are a number of drivers for developing our digital ambitions including increasing digital content and approach to the learning environment along with a desire for developing opportunities for remote learning and helping to widen access to learners in rural areas. Developing innovative digital services will also facilitate improved links to business and enterprise.

To further support our digital aspirations, the Scottish Government continues to invest in the national digital learning environment, Glow, ensuring our learners and educators have free access to a range of industry leading tools and services. We also continue to invest in connectivity for education through the Scottish Wide Area Network. Both areas of investment will remain under review to ensure they remain relevant and appropriate for the education system.


Email: Matthew.Rennie@gov.scot

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