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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 June, 2004, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
More schools get private finance
Education Minister Peter Peacock
Peter Peacock said the investment would bolster children's education
Scotland's Education Minister Peter Peacock has announced a multi-million pound school building and refurbishment programme.

It forms the latest round of work funded by public-private partnerships.

The Scottish Executive has previously announced plans to build or overhaul 300 schools over the next five years.

The largest ever school buildings programme north of the border is spread across 28 council areas and will cost more than 2.2bn.

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) allow private firms to fund the work on the schools, with the local council paying them back over a period of about 30 years.

The private firms also guarantee to provide repairs to the buildings and make sure they are kept to an agreed standard.

Our pupils and teachers have schools fit for the 21st century
Education Minister Peter Peacock
However, the deals are controversial because over the course of the lease the council will generally pay far more than the cost of the building work.

The latest investment is being allocated to schools in West Dunbartonshire, Falkirk, Moray and the Scottish Borders.

Announcing the details during a visit to Vale of Leven Academy in West Dunbartonshire, Mr Peacock said communities throughout Scotland would benefit.

"Gone are the crumbling classrooms and out-of-date equipment. Instead, our pupils and teachers have schools fit for the 21st century, equipped to meet modern needs and challenges," he said.

Poor planning

"That's what this investment is about, building for the future to deliver the very best for our young people and the generations who will follow them."

The minister added that the right school environment and motivated teachers could make a significant difference to children's education.

The Scottish National Party said the PPP programme was "discredited" and it urged the executive to consider other funding options.

SNP education spokeswoman Fiona Hyslop said: "There are options to privatisation, one of which is the SNP idea of a not-for-profit trust which the executive has partially adopted at the request of some councils, like Falkirk, and they should be thinking about taking the project the whole way

"There has to be a change to the model schools PPP contract, to ensure that decent PE facilities and out of hours access for community use are built in to prevent the zealous sell-off of playing fields to pay for PPP profits."

Teaching union EIS said the school building programme had been marred by poor planning and shoddy workmanship.

PPP schools funding
West Dunbartonshire - 100m
Falkirk - 70m
Borders - 50m
Moray - 50m
The EIS union's study heard complaints of narrow corridors and leaking roofs.

General secretary Ronnie Smith said some of the work carried out to date represented a missed opportunity.

He claimed that designers had ultimately failed to listen to the staff who will work in the buildings every day.

Among the flaws identified in the survey were poor soundproofing and discipline problems caused by small playgrounds outside, cramped conditions inside, inadequate insulation and poor water supplies.

Sebastian Tombs, the chief executive of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), said the survey raised serious concerns about the executive's school building programme.

He said: "Our view is that the best way to get good buildings is to use the experience of those using them and put them at the heart of the design process.

"You then end up with something people feel more ownership of and have more pride in."


SEE ALSO:
Schools work 'a missed chance'
25 May 04  |  Scotland
School closure plans spark row
19 Mar 04  |  Scotland
Empty desks in Scots classrooms
22 Jan 04  |  Scotland
Council's schools plan criticised
13 Jan 04  |  Scotland
Private funding for 300 new schools
25 Jun 02  |  Scotland


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