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LANDMARK DEAL ON SCHOOL BUILDINGS

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The first national agreement for continued long-term investment in Scotland's school buildings has been agreed. ...
The first national agreement for continued long-term investment in Scotland's school buildings has been agreed.

Education minister Jack McConnell met council leaders at Balfron High School near Stirling yesterday. Afterwards he said it was a landmark agreement and should make a real difference to the quality of school environments.

'Renovating and replacing the worst school buildings in Scotland is one of our top priorities,' Mr McConnell said. 'For too long there has been no real strategic view of what needs to be done to turn our crumbling schools into places where learning is a pleasure.

'Looking at long term investment in the school estate is a vital task which will reap rewards in terms of attainment, discipline and community use.

'This can only be achieved through partnership between the executive and authorities. Together we can ensure that school buildings are fit for the future and allow our children to have the kind of education they deserve.

'We have agreed that authorities will commit funds for this sustainable long term investment. We will back up the plans by setting the level of support for the next round of PPP projects at around 80 per cent.

'I can also confirm today that the School Buildings Improvement Fund which I launched in August will continue to provide funds for immediate wind and watertight repairs over the next two years.

'Both these short and long term approaches will help us work with authorities so that we can at long last make an impact on the legacy of under-funding in the school estate. Most importantly this agreement will make a real difference to the quality of the school environment and help all our children achieve their full potential.'

The agreement means that local authorities will produce school estate management plans for their areas with initial proposals being included in the Improvement Plans to be published by December. The executive and individual local authorities will discuss and agree 3-5 year targets linked to joint resource investment. Progress will be monitored by the authorities and the executive through the Improvement Plan process and the shared approach will be reviewed as it progresses.

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