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Facilities are either closed, too expensive or not good enough

Many PPP schools' facilities are not up to scratch because teachers were not consulted on their design, according to a sportscotland report.

They are often lying unused outside school hours because costs are too high, they close during holidays, and showers and changing rooms are not good enough.

The report points to some cases of "meaningful and constructive consultation" with teachers, leading to high-quality facilities "well suited to the needs of the school and community".

In others, however, a "more generic approach was adopted and such consultation was considered impossible". There was frustration that facilities might have been better, had teachers been involved in planning.

The report was commissioned to assess the use of public-private partnership schools by communities. The research was carried out by Stirling University's Fred Coalter and Genesis Strategic Management Consultants, for sportscotland, the Scottish Arts Council and the Scottish Government.

Problems surfaced where one centralised company was responsible for several schools. Individual managers encouraged more flexible use. Cost in the evenings and at weekends was often too high and "prohibitive" for amateur organisations.

"In the meantime, some excellent facilities are largely unused outside core hours," the report states. "PPP management is not, in and of itself, a solution, and PPP contracts should be negotiated so that the problem of cost to community users is minimised."

Closing schools outside term time put off potential users; in the worst examples, facilities shut on public holidays and at mid-term. Some were less than excellent, and there was a widespread view that "poor-quality changing and showering facilities are restricting the development of community use".

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