Page last updated at 15:41 GMT, Wednesday, 17 June 2009 16:41 UK

Schools building plan announced

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New build schools have modern facilities including dance studios

Details of a new £1.25bn plan to provide about 55 new schools in Scotland have been announced.

Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop said the move would see 35,000 pupils taught in modern buildings, with the first bricks laid in 2010.

But Labour branded the plan "woeful" and rival parties accused the Scottish Government of unnecessary delay.

Ministers said the new schools programme would be partly funded using alternatives to "costly" PPP schemes.

Ms Hyslop told the Scottish Parliament that the first schools to be built under the £1.25bn scheme would open between 12 and 18 months after the start of construction.

The new buildings will be split evenly between primaries and secondaries.

'Parliamentary plagiarism'

Councils with the greatest need will receive direct funding first, while others will be supported through the government's Scottish Futures Trust, using schemes such as non-profit distributing methods - which ministers insisted were better value for money than PPP/PFI tie-ups with the private sector.

Ms Hyslop said: "This government is providing funding that has already helped to lift 50,000 pupils out of poor quality school buildings and councils' school building programmes are on track to lift another 50,000 out of poor quality school buildings by 2011."

The Scottish Government has agreed to fund two thirds of the cost of the secondary schools, with councils paying for the rest, while ministers and local authorities will each pay half the bill for the primaries.

Ms Hyslop said the current government had signed off 49 schools since 2007.

However, Labour education spokeswoman Rhona Brankin accused the education secretary of "parliamentary plagiarism", saying the SNP had claimed credit for schools commissioned by the previous Holyrood government.

'Lacking timescale'

"After more than two years of delay and prevarication, we are still waiting to hear of a single specific school to be initiated by this SNP Government," she said.

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Murdo Fraser said the schools plan could have been announced two years ago, adding: "Two wasted years in which the construction industry has been crying out for work to offset the effects of Labour's recession."

The Liberal Democrats' Jeremy Purvis said the plans lacked any meaningful timescale.

"That's what we'd argued in the Budget, that's we argued last year and we will still argue it this year because unfortunately the classic SNP response to this issue has been confusion and more assertion," he said.



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