A third of schools in poor condition and new schools reveal design problems, despite £3.9bn investment

It could take up to 20 years to make Scotland’s schools fit for purpose despite billions of pounds of funding, a report reveals.

It said a third of schools in Scotland are in poor condition, despite a £3.9bn investment over the past eight years. This will increase to more than £5.2bn by April 2008.

The report, published by the Accounts Commission and Auditor General, said a sample study of 18 new or refurbished schools revealed design problems.

Many schools overheated, had poor ventilation and were not designed with sustainability in mind.

The report, Improving the school estate, recommended the Scottish Government and councils should draw up detailed plans to make schools fit for the 21st century.

John Baillie, chair of the Accounts Commission, said: “Councils are working hard to improve how they manage their school estates. They need carefully to devise their financial strategies, paying particular attention to future costs and to ensuring that they are able to adapt to changing needs such as pupil numbers, curriculum changes and community needs. Councils could also do more to share good practice and improve designs, and make environmental sustainability a key consideration.”

The Scottish Executive began a programme of school building and improvement in the late 1990s including financial support for councils which used PFI. In the past decade 219 schools have be built.

A strategy in 2003 aimed to raise the quality of the estate over 10-15 years but the report said there were no clear guidelines for improvement so it was impossible to measure progress.