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New schools needed as number of secondary school pupils set to increase

Image credit: David Davies/PA Wire

New schools needed as number of secondary school pupils set to increase

Scotland will need to create the equivalent of 453 classrooms or 13 new schools to accommodate the increasing number of secondary school pupils over the next two years.

The School Places Challenge 2019 report reveals that there will be an additional 13,600 secondary school pupils in Scotland by 2020/21 – a 4.8 per cent increase on current numbers.

The problem will be particularly stark in Aberdeen, which will experience the biggest increase in secondary school pupils in the next two years, with a 17.5 per cent increase, and in Edinburgh, which will see secondary pupil numbers rise by 7.5 per cent.

The report states that Edinburgh City Council has agreed a £66.7m investment in new or refurbished primary and secondary schools, while the Scottish Government’s Schools for the Future programme is investing more than £1bn into the delivery of new schools to help meet the growing demand for secondary school places in Scotland.

According to the report, the number of primary pupils entering the education system is set to fall, with 19,700 fewer primary pupils by 2020/21.

It adds: “However, the primary school pupils that entered into the system five years ago are due to progress to secondary school in the next couple of years, putting pressure on S1 across the country.

“By 2020/21 there will be an additional 13,600 secondary school pupils, a 4.8 per cent increase on current numbers, which will require the equivalent of 453 extra classrooms or an additional 13 schools to accommodate them.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott said: “Many secondary schools across Scotland have been closed as larger schools have been built. It is extraordinary that no one apparently saw the consequences of this and did not plan for enough classrooms.

“There are serious questions to answer about how this situation was allowed to arise. Whatever the background, the future of a young person's education cannot be compromised by these obvious problems and parents will expect immediate action.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Working with local councils since 2009, we will deliver 117 new school projects, benefitting 60,000 pupils, by March 2020, and we will look to build on that progress, investing a further £1bn to rebuild and refurbish our schools.

“That follows £1.8bn already invested in the last decade through the Schools for the Future programme, comprising £1.13bn of Scottish Government funding and £665m from councils. Through the programme, a new school project will be delivered in every local authority area in Scotland by 2020.”  

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